Pluto’s Heart Possibly Has A Hidden Salty Ocean

Posted: Sep 26 2016, 5:51am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Pluto’s Heart Possibly Has a Hidden Salty Ocean
Pluto's famous "heart," half of which was created by an ancient impact, offers clues about a possible subsurface ocean. NASA/APL/SwR
  • Possible Existence of Hidden Salty Ocean beneath Pluto’s Heart

There happens to be the possible existence of a hidden salty ocean beneath the planet Pluto’s heart.

NASA’s new horizons spacecraft visited Pluto last year. The pics it took show evidence of the existence of an ocean beneath its surface. By computer simulation models, scientists have shown the presence of a liquid reservoir beneath the icy shell.

The study, led by Brown University geologist Brandon Johnson and published in Geophysical Research Letters, showed that a 100 km of water may be lying beneath the surface. As for the composition of that ocean, it must be salty water of the kind that is found in the Dead Sea.

The thermal models of the interiority of Pluto along with tectonic plate evidence lends credence to a liquid ocean being present. Yet the size or any other dimensions of this ocean are still a moot point.

The thickness of this ocean as well as some signs that point towards what it is composed of may be helpful in the end. Most of the research focused on the Sputnik Planum which is 900 km across.

It is part of the heart-shaped lobe on the planet. This basin may have been created by a meteor impact. The object that hit the area on Pluto’s surface was probably 200 km across.

The story begins with Pluto’s moon, Charon. Pluto and Charon are interlocked. This means they show the same side to each other all the time while rotating relative to each other.

The Sputnik Planum lies directly over the region linking the planet and its largest moon. The basin has a positive mass anomaly. This means that it has more mass than normal for Pluto’s icy exterior.

However, a positive mass anomaly would would make Sputnik Planum an odd one as far as craters are concerned. Sputnik Planum does not show a negative mass anomaly.

This was what was expected but didn’t show up in regard to Sputnik Planum. So the only explanation would be a space that was filled with nitrogen ice.

Yet that mass is not enough to fill in the space. So the rest must be filled by a liquid ocean. This liquid circulating beneath the surface is probably a saline ocean.

Water is much denser than ice. It must have thus welled up out of the crater in the past. The hypothetical liquid ocean will have more facts regarding it come out into the open as time passes.

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