Icebergs on Pluto’s Sea of Frozen Nitrogen

Source: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Source: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

 

Data from NASA’s New Horizons mission continues to answer mysteries surrounding Pluto.  Since the spacecraft’s flyby last summer, scientists are analyzing large amounts of data being sent back to earth.

Scientists suspect mountainous icebergs of water float across an area within Pluto’s heart-shaped region known as Sputnik Planum.  According to today’s NASA press release, the icebergs likely drift through a sea of frozen nitrogen, as water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice. The movements of these icebergs can be compared to how ice moves through the Arctic Ocean on Earth.

Although finding sources of water within our solar system is exciting, it doesn’t necessarily mean the existence of life. With an average surface temperature of -380 degrees Fahrenheit (-229 degrees Celsius), it is almost impossible for life to develop on Pluto’s hostile environment.

It’s unlikely, but not impossible.

Keep looking up,

-Julia

 

Published by Julia Mariani

(Sources: Popular Science)

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