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Pluto has giant ice volcanoes that could hint at the possibility of life

Images of Pluto captured by NASA’s New Horizons mission have revealed a new surprise: ice volcanoes. The spacecraft made a flight of the dwarf planet and its moons in July 2015 and the information gathered then continues to rewrite almost everything that scientists understand about Pluto. was downgraded to a dwarf planet in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union created a new definition of the planets and Pluto did not meet the criteria. The dwarf planet is on the edge of our solar system in the Kuiper Belt and is the largest of the many frozen objects that roam away from the sun. The icy world, which has an average temperature of negative 387 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 232 degrees Celsius), is home to mountains, valleys, glaciers, plains and craters. If you were standing on the surface, you would see blue skies with red snow. A new photo analysis has shown an abnormal area on Pluto that does not look like any other part of the small world – or the rest of our cosmic neighborhood. “We found a field of very large icy volcanoes that does not look at all like anything else we have seen in the solar system,” said study author Kelsi Singer, a senior fellow at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. A study detailing the findings was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. The area is located southwest of the Sputnik Planitia ice sheet, which covers an ancient 621-mile-wide impact basin. Made largely of uneven water ice, it is filled with volcanic domes. Two of the largest are known as Wright Mons and Piccard Mons. The Wright Mons are about 13,123 to 16,404 feet high and stretch for 93 miles, while the Piccard Mons is about 22,965 feet high and 139 miles wide. Wright Mons is thought to be similar in volume to Mauna Loa in Hawaii, one of the largest volcanoes on Earth. Some of the domes seen in the images are merging to form even larger mountains, Singer said. But what could create them? Ice volcanoes. Ice volcanoes have been observed elsewhere in our solar system. They move material from the basement to the surface and create new ground. In this case, it was the water that quickly turned to ice as soon as it reached the icy temperatures of Pluto’s surface. said Singer. “They formed like mountains, but there is no caldera at the top, and they have big bumps everywhere.” . To create the area studied by Singer and her team, there would be several explosion sites. The team also noted that the area has no impact craters, which can be seen all over Pluto, suggesting that ice volcanoes have been active relatively recently – and that the interior of Pluto has more residual heat than “This means that Pluto has more internal heat than we thought it would have, which means we do not fully understand how planetary bodies work,” Singer said. Ice volcanoes probably formed “in several episodes” and were probably active just 100 million to 200 million years ago, which is new from a geological point of view, Singer added. “The icy material was more like a muddy mixture of ice and water or more like toothpaste flowing from a volcanic hole on Pluto’s surface,” Singer said. “It is so cold on the surface of Pluto that liquid water can not stay there for long. In some cases, the flow of material formed the huge domes we see, as well as the massive ground that is everywhere in this area.” The horizons flew from this area, the team saw no current volcanic ice activity, but was only able to see the area for about a day. “It is possible that ice volcanoes are still active.” They could be like volcanoes on Earth that remain dormant for a while and then are active again, “he said. The subterranean ocean is still present – and this liquid water could be close to the surface. Combined with the idea that Pluto has a warmer interior than previously thought, the findings raise interesting questions about the possible habitability of the dwarf planet. “They would still need some source of continuous nutrients, and if the volcanic is episodic and therefore the availability of heat and water is variable, this is sometimes difficult for organisms as well.” “If we were sending a future mission, we could use ice-penetrating radar to look directly at Pluto and possibly even see what volcanic hydraulics look like,” Singer said.

Images of Pluto captured by NASA’s New Horizons mission have revealed a new surprise: ice volcanoes.

The spacecraft made a flight of the dwarf planet and its moons in July 2015, and the knowledge gathered then continues to rewrite almost everything that scientists understand about Pluto.

Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union created a new definition of the planets and Pluto did not meet the criteria.

The dwarf planet is on the edge of our solar system in the Kuiper Zone, and is the largest of the many frozen objects that roam away from the sun. The icy world, which has an average temperature of negative 387 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 232 degrees Celsius), is home to mountains, valleys, glaciers, plains and craters. If you were standing on the surface, you would see blue skies with red snow.

A new photo analysis has shown an abnormal area on Pluto that does not look like any other part of the small world – or the rest of our cosmic neighborhood.

“We found a field of very large icy volcanoes that does not look at all like anything else we have seen in the solar system,” said study author Kelsi Singer, a senior fellow at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

A study detailing the findings was published in the journal Tuesday Communications about nature.

The area is located southwest of the Sputnik Planitia ice sheet, which covers an ancient 621-mile-wide impact basin. Made largely of uneven water ice, it is filled with volcanic domes. Two of the largest are known as Wright Mons and Piccard Mons.

The Wright Mons are about 13,123 to 16,404 feet high and stretch for 93 miles, while the Piccard Mons is about 22,965 feet high and 139 miles wide.

Wright Mons is thought to be similar in volume to Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which is one of the largest volcanoes on Earth.

Some of the domes seen in the images are merging to form even larger mountains, Singer said. But what could create them? Ice volcanoes.

Ice volcanoes have been observed elsewhere in our solar system. They move material from the basement to the surface and create new ground. In this case, it was the water that quickly turned to ice as soon as it reached the icy temperatures of Pluto’s surface.

“The way these features look is very different from any volcano in the entire solar system, whether it is icy specimens or rocky volcanoes,” Singer said. “They formed like mountains, but there is no caldera at the top and they have big bumps everywhere.”

While Pluto has a rocky core, scientists have long believed that the planet did not have much internal heating, which is necessary to stimulate the volcano. To create the area studied by Singer and her team, there would be several explosion sites.

The team also noted that the area has no impact craters, which can be seen all over Pluto, suggesting that ice volcanoes have been active relatively recently – and that the interior of Pluto has more residual heat than expected. said Singer.

“This means that Pluto has more internal heat than we thought it would have, which means we do not fully understand how planetary bodies work,” he said.

Ice volcanoes probably formed “in multiple episodes” and were probably active just 100 million to 200 million years ago, which is geologically new, Singer added.

If you were watching an ice volcano erupt on Pluto, it may look a little different than you expected.

“The icy material was more like a muddy mixture of ice and water or more like toothpaste flowing from a volcanic hole on Pluto’s surface,” Singer said. “It is so cold on the surface of Pluto that liquid water can not stay there for long. In some cases, the flow of material formed the huge domes we see, as well as the massive ground that is everywhere in this area.”

When the New Horizons flew from this area, the team saw no current volcanic ice activity, but was only able to see the area for about a day. It is possible that ice volcanoes are still active.

“They could be like volcanoes on Earth that remain dormant for a while and then are active again,” he said.

Pluto once had a subterranean ocean, and the discovery of these ice volcanoes could indicate that the subterranean ocean is still present – and that liquid water could be close to the surface. Combined with the idea that Pluto has a warmer interior than previously thought, the findings raise interesting questions about the dwarf planet’s possible habitability.

“There are still many challenges for any organization trying to survive there,” Singer said. “They would still need some source of continuous nutrients, and if volcanism is episodic and therefore the availability of heat and water is variable, this is sometimes difficult for organisms.”

Exploring Pluto’s fascinating subsoil would require sending an orbiter to the distant world.

“If we were actually sending a future mission, we could use ice-penetrating radar to look directly at Pluto and possibly even see what volcanic plumbing looks like,” Singer said.

Pluto has giant ice volcanoes that could hint at the possibility of life Source link Pluto has giant ice volcanoes that could hint at the possibility of life

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