Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pluto's Sputnik Planum - Is there a Ocean on Pluto

Is there an ocean below Sputnik Planum on Pluto? The unusually smooth 1000-km wide golden expanse, visible in the featured image from New Horizons, appears segmented into convection cells. But how was this region created? One hypothesis now holds the answer to be a great impact that stirred up anunderground ocean of salt water roughly 100-kilometers thick. The featured imageof Sputnik Planum, part of the larger heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio, was taken last July and shows true details in exaggerated colors. Although the robotic New Horizons spacecraft is off on a new adventure, continued computer-modeling of this surprising surface feature on Pluto is likely to lead to more refined speculations about what lies beneath.
Image Credit: NASAJohns Hopkins U./APLSouthwest Research Inst.

New Horizons

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