A new study from NASA scientists suggests that there is an underground ocean beneath Pluto’s surface. Previous theories also claimed that there is liquid water underneath the surface layers of the dwarf planet. Specialists have recently taken a closer look at the icy core of Pluto, and this is what they found.
The latest research from NASA points out that previous theories on Pluto’s underground ocean are correct. According to scientists, the body of water could be even one hundred kilometers deep. They also estimate that salinity reaches a high level, similar to that in the Dead Sea. However, many details on the ocean’s dimensions, as well as other features, remain unknown.
The New Horizons mission from NASA also provided clues to the existence of such an ocean underneath the icy surface of Pluto. The spacecraft flew past the dwarf planet one year ago, in summer. Nevertheless, there were still doubts whether the water was solid or liquid.
The new study is far from being complete. In other words, scientists still have to determine numerous details before stating for sure that there is an underground ocean at the core of Pluto. Although most of their information leads them to believe so, further investigation is required.
There is an iconic heart-shaped formation on Pluto’s surface. It is on the left side of the “Heart” where the underground ocean is presumably located. The area is called Sputnik Planum, and it is an icy region. Scientists conducted experiments which recreated the conditions under which Sputnik Planum appeared. This led them one step closer to the prediction that there is an underground ocean on Pluto.
Brandon Johnson and his researcher colleagues were in charged of the study and the experiments. They had to recreate the asteroid crash which caused Sputnik Planum to appear on the small planet of our solar system. They also had to investigate Charon, which is one of Pluto’s five known moons and the largest of them. The two celestial bodies always face each other. The underground ocean is located on Pluto’s side that faces Charon.
Scientists hope that further investigations will assure them that this ocean really exists on Pluto. However, they are still amazed by the possibility that an impressive body of water can be out there, in space.
The new paper on Pluto and its’ well-hidden, mysterious ocean was published in Geophysical Research Letters.
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