New Horizons’ Studies of Pluto by 2015!

December 18, 2011 at 11:38 PM (astronomy topics, curious research, current news, extraterrestrial studies, late night studies, science and technology)

An ocean could be found beneath the icy surface of Pluto?!?!  Ridiculous, certainly!  Flowing water can not be found in a location where there is no substantial heat….

Pluto is one of the most distant objects of our solar system.  It is within an elliptical orbit that keeps this celestial body at an average distance of 3.67 billion miles from The Sun.  It is cold out there!

However.  Astronomers are currently working with studies of Pluto, making efforts to identify the dwarf planet’s composition to the most accurate levels, yet.  N.A.S.A. has launched the New Horizons space probe, which is supposed to reach the former ninth planet by the middle of 2015.  The spacecraft will acquire analyses and images of Pluto, and it’s four moons.

A current speculation is that an entire ocean could exist beneath the surface of Pluto.  It is being suggested that an area of the planet’s surface could contain a massive bulge.  This would hint at the presence of an ocean below the ice covering.  Currently, there is no legitimate evidence of water under a shell of ice that encases Pluto.

Any liquid beneath the ice of this planet would have to be maintained by the gravitational forces that are engaged in a setting of internal strife.  As these forces struggle between the rotation of Pluto, along with the gravitational forces between the world and it’s moons, a source of heat will be created.  This heat could be intense enough to have melted any subsurface liquid, allowing an ocean to exist.

New Horizons will examine Pluto, determining whether or not a bulge on the surface of the planet is present.  If there is a bulge, then the planet would not have an interior ocean.  All of the water would be frozen into this massive area, and none of it would be flowing beneath the surface.  Yet, if there is no bulge, this could indicate that a subsurface ocean could be present, with liquid remaining in that state due to the gravity between Pluto and it’s moons.

The heat source within Pluto would come from radioactive action beneath the surface.  Potassium has been identified to exist within Pluto. This element could produce the necessary energy to allow the action of underground radioactive decay.  Underground ice would melt, allowing for flowing, subsurface water.  It is speculated that Pluto contains enough potassium for this process to happen.

Studies from the New Horizons space probe will determine whether or not there is actually flowing liquid, or if it is frozen beneath Pluto’s surface.  If ice has thickened on the planet’s surface, it is possible that flowing fluid could be below the ice covering.  Whereas, if the ice surface is slushy, it is more likely that the interior of Pluto is frozen.

Again, none of this will be verified until New Horizons reaches Pluto.  It is anticipated to reach the former ninth planet by April 2015.  At that point, the most accurate studies of Pluto will occur, including details about it’s atmosphere, it’s temperature, and what effects that The Sun has on the world at such an extreme distance!


Dwarf Planet Pluto







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