NASA Captures Giant Icy 'Spider' On Pluto’s Surface

Posted: Apr 9 2016, 3:58am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 9 2016, 7:54am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


NASA Captures Giant Icy 'Spider' on Pluto’s Surface

NASA's New Horizon spacecraft spotted a unique geological feature on Pluto's landscape that resembles a giant spider.

Pluto has been long known for having diverse and unique features on its surface. Still it keeps surprising scientists.

Recently, NASA captured a unique geological feature which is absolutely stunning and looks like a giant spider sprawled across the icy surface of Pluto. This kind of bizarre feature has not been observed anywhere else in outer space.

“Oh, what a tangled web Pluto’s geology weaves,” said Oliver White from NASA Ames Research Center, California. “The pattern these fractures form is like nothing else we’ve seen in the outer solar system, and shows once again that anywhere we look on Pluto, we see something different.”

The image was taken by NASA’s New Horizon Spacecraft during its historic close flyby in July 2015. The color of the image has been enhanced to reveal the subtle details of the weird feature.

The high-resolution image shows that the unique geological feature consists of at least six extensional fractures that appear to be originated from a single spot and resembles a crawling spider. The longest of the surface fractures or we should say ‘leg’ of the red colored spider is named Sleipnir Fossa and it is almost 360 miles long. The longest fractures are stretching across north-south of Pluto while the fracture located east-west is shortest, less than 60 miles long. 

The fractures which have been spotted on Pluto’s surface before usually run parallel to one another in long belts. Therefore, the pattern where fractures are spreading out in an irregular way and converging to a point near the center is much different from other patterns of fractures seen on Pluto.

Researchers believe that this pattern is likely caused by a focused source of stress under the Pluto’s water, ice crust at a point where the fractures connect and it is probably due to material gushing from beneath the surface. An asymmetric feature on Venus known as novae and Pantheon Fossae on Mercury are the only examples that somewhat resembles this spider-like feature on Pluto.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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