Pluto’s Moon Charon Stretched And Fractured With Frozen And Expanded Water

Posted: Feb 22 2016, 11:25am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Pluto's moon Charon
Photo credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

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NASA’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) mounted on New Horizons spacecraft obtained several images of Pluto’s moon Charon during a flyby in June 2015, revealing that the planet may have contained frozen water below its surface, causing internal expansions that made the planet to stretch and fracture on its surface - NASA writes.

These surface stretches and fractures are manifested as tectonic faults of scarps, valleys and ridges that are oftentimes 4 miles or 6.5 kilometers deep. Scientists believe the stretching and fracturing of the surface of Charon must have occurred in the motion of a man slowing tearing apart his shirt.

Astronomers revealed that the outer layer of Charon is largely water ice, and that internal formation heat as well as heat generated by decaying radioactive materials may have kept Charon warm when it was still growing – an internal warmth that may have melted subsurface water ice and created a subsurface ocean.

This internal ocean would have become frozen as Charon got older and cooled over the centuries, causing the frozen water to expand and force a surface expansion which is now expressed as chasms and valleys and ridges across the surface of the planet.

The part of the Pluto’s moon captured by LORRI is informally called Serenity Chasma – a belt of chasm running a minimum 1,100 miles or 1,800 kilometers long where the fractures are about 4.5 miles or 7.5 kilometers deep.

According to NASA scientists, the image displayed with this story has a resolution of about 1,290 feet (394 meters) per pixel. The image measures 240 miles (386 kilometers) long and 110 miles (175 kilometers) wide. It was obtained at a range of approximately 48,900 miles (78,700 kilometers) from Charon, about an hour and 40 minutes before New Horizons’ closest approach to Charon on July 14, 2015.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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