The study, which has just appeared in the scientific journal Nature Communications, sheds new light on the planet Pluto. Experts note that the dwarf planet has a surface that has never been seen before, covered with huge ice volcanoes.
Scientists base their conclusions on analyzes of images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. The probe was launched into space in 2006, and along with Pluto, a dwarf planet is on its outskirts Solar System, flew in July 2015. Material obtained in this way allowed experts to note that Pluto’s surface is uneven and unlike anything previously seen in the Solar System. In their opinion, the so-called volcanoes.
Ice volcanoes in Pluto
According to Kelsi Singer, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado who was involved in the study, volcanoes on Pluto did not throw hot magma into the air. Instead, they released a “dense, muddy mixture of ice water”, methane, or other frozen material. One of them, Wright Mons, is about five kilometers high and 150 kilometers wide. Phys.org notes that its size can be compared to that of one of the largest volcanoes on Earth – Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
Stinger added that it is difficult to know when ice volcanoes formed on Pluto. It probably happened hundreds of millions of years ago. However, it is possible that the formations are younger. Just as the surface of the dwarf planet, devoid of impact craters, is still being formed.
Lynn Quick, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who specializes in ice volcanoes, commented on the discovery. In an interview with AFP, she acknowledged that the findings were “very important” and suggested that dwarf planets like Pluto, “which should have lost a lot of their internal heat long ago, were able to retain enough energy to facilitate large-scale geological activity in the phase.” overdue.”
Experts are already planning further analyzes of Pluto and its surface. They want to re-evaluate the ability to hold water in a small liquid state, icy planetsaway from the sun, and studying what could provide the heat needed to erupt ice volcanoes.
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