Most probably Pluto's subsurface ocean exist: Study

Most probably Pluto's subsurface ocean exist: Study

A journal Geophysical Research Letters-published research paper has unveiled that a simulation of as to how Pluto got its heart has suggested that the dwarf planet most probably has a liquid water ocean beneath its surface.

The research paper has even provided details on the same. In July 2015, New Horizons flew by Pluto in July 2015 and its data suggested that the dwarf planet had water at some point of time. But at that time, scientists were not sure whether Pluto hosts an ocean and if there is then it remained in frozen condition over the time.

In the new study, scientists have determined that Pluto’s subsurface ocean is present. In fact, liquid water in the ocean is at least 60 miles deep and almost as salty as the Dead Sea on Earth. An interesting fact here to know is that the deepest part of earth’s ocean is around 7 miles deep and earth is around 150 times the size of Pluto.

Study’s lead author Brandon Johnson from Brown University was of the view, “Thermal models of Pluto's interior and tectonic evidence found on the surface suggest that an ocean may exist, but it's not easy to infer its size or anything else about it. We've been able to put some constraints on its thickness and get some clues about [its] composition”.

The researchers were able to conclude the same after simulating the huge asteroid impact that left a patch on Sputnik Planum on Pluto's surface. Several simulations were carried out by the research team. Johnson said that if Sputnik Planum is having a positive mass anomaly then it means that the ocean layer of at least 100 kilometers has to be present.

A report published in Space informed, "Scientists have long suspected that Pluto has liquid water hidden underground. When NASA's New Horizons mission first set sail to the outskirts of the solar system, scientists were already planning to investigate whether the dwarf planet harbors water."

"Thermal models of Pluto's interior and tectonic evidence found on the surface suggest that an ocean may exist, but it's not easy to infer its size or anything else about it," Brandon Johnson, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Brown University's Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, said in a statement. "We've been able to put some constraints on its thickness and get some clues about [its] composition."

"This scenario requires a liquid ocean," Johnson said. "What this tells us is that, if Sputnik Planum is indeed a positive mass anomaly — and it appears as though it is — this ocean layer of at least 100 kilometers has to be there. It's pretty amazing to me that you have this body so far out in the solar system that still may have liquid water."

According to a report in Phys by Kevin Stacey, "The study, led by Brown University geologist Brandon Johnson and published in Geophysical Research Letters, finds a high likelihood that there's more than 100 kilometers of liquid water beneath Pluto's surface. The research also offers a clue about the composition of that ocean, suggesting that it likely has a salt content similar to that of the Dead Sea."

The story of how the basin relates to Pluto's putative ocean starts with its position on the planet relative to Pluto's largest moon, Charon. Pluto and Charon are tidally locked with each other, meaning they always show each other the same face as they rotate. Sputnik Planum sits directly on the tidal axis linking the two worlds. That position suggests that the basin has what's called a positive mass anomaly—it has more mass than average for Pluto's icy crust.

"What this tells us is that if Sputnik Planum is indeed a positive mass anomaly —and it appears as though it is—this ocean layer of at least 100 kilometers has to be there," Johnson said. "It's pretty amazing to me that you have this body so far out in the solar system that still may have liquid water."


Share

Contact

Whether you want to ask us a question, would like to solve a problem, or just give us a suggestion, you’ll find many ways to contact us right here.

Email: editor@norcal.news

Phone: (916) 225-9835

Fax: (916) 225-9845

Newsletters

Subscribe and get the latest updates, news and more...