VIDEO: Evidence of Underground Ocean On Pluto Excites Scientists, Ocean Estimated 62 Miles Deep
By SEEKER // November 17, 2016
underground ocean made of water, slushy ice
ABOVE VIDEO: Photos of Pluto’s surface from the New Horizons mission show two major clues that suggest the possibility of a liquid sea under all that ice.
(SEEKER) – Scientists have their first evidence that Pluto, located some 4 billion miles from the sun, has an underground ocean made of water and slushy ice.
The sea is believed to be buried 93- to 124 miles beneath Pluto’s giant impact basin, known as Sputnik Planitia, which lies within the heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio.
The ocean is estimated to be 62 miles deep, said planetary scientist Francis Nimmo, with the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Evidence for the ocean, reported in a pair of papers in this week’s Nature, comes from images and analysis of data collected by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto, its primary moon Charon and four smaller moons in July 2015.
Scientists were trying to figure out how Sputnik Planitia formed and why it is located in its present position, roughly 18 degrees north of Pluto’s equator.
The analysis suggests that billions of years ago Pluto was hit by a comet or Kuiper Belt object, forming a basin on the surface. The depression then filled with nitrogen ice, which caused the dwarf planet to roll over, stressing and cracking the crust in the process. Eventually the faults caused Pluto’s mountains and canyons to form.