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Surprise: an ocean of liquid water on Pluto

They estimate that Pluto's ocean is, at most, about 8% denser than seawater on Earth, or about the same as the Great Salt Lake in Utah (but much less salty than the Dead Sea). The salt and a thick layer of ice that isolates it from the outside universe protect the ocean from freezing

In a paper published in the journal Icarus, Alex Nguyen, a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, used mathematical models and images from the New Horizons spacecraft to take a closer look at the ocean that he says likely covers Pluto beneath a thick layer of nitrogen, methane and water ice. (Image: NASA)
In a paper published in the journal Icarus, Alex Nguyen, a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, used mathematical models and images from the New Horizons spacecraft to take a closer look at the ocean that he says likely covers Pluto beneath a thick layer of nitrogen, methane and water ice. (Image: NASA)

The possibility of an ocean of liquid water beneath Pluto's icy surface is beginning to emerge thanks to new calculations by Alex Nguyen, a graduate student in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences in the Faculty of Sciences and Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. Patrick McGovern of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston co-authored the article.

In a paper published in the journal Icarus, Nguyen used mathematical models and images from the New Horizons spacecraft that flew by Pluto in 2015 to take a closer look at the ocean that he says likely covers the planet beneath a thick layer of nitrogen, methane and water ice.

For decades, planetary scientists assumed that Pluto could not support the existence of an ocean. The temperature at the surface is about -220 degrees Celsius, a temperature so cold that even gases like nitrogen and methane freeze into a solid mass. Water was not supposed to survive.

"Pluto is a small body," said Nguyen, who is doing his doctoral research at the University of Washington as an Olin Fellow and a National Science Foundation Research Fellow. "It should have lost almost all of its heat shortly after it was formed, so basic calculations would indicate that it is frozen to the star's core."

But in recent years, senior scientists, including William B. McKinnon, Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences in the Faculty of Science and Humanities, gathered evidence suggesting that Pluto probably has an ocean of liquid water beneath the ice. This hypothesis arose from several lines of evidence, including cryonic volcanoes on Pluto that emit ice and water vapor. Although there is still some debate on the subject, "it is now generally accepted that Pluto has an ocean," Nguyen said.

The new study explores the ocean in greater detail, even if it is too deep beneath the ice for scientists to ever see. Nguyen and McGovern created mathematical models to explain the cracks and bulges in the ice covering Pluto's Sputnik Planetia Basin, which was formed by a meteor crash billions of years ago. Their calculations suggest that the ocean in this region exists beneath a layer of water ice 40 to 80 km thick, a protective layer that likely keeps the interior ocean from freezing completely.

They also calculated the likely density or salinity of the ocean based on the cracks in the ice above. They estimate that Pluto's ocean is, at most, about 8% denser than seawater on Earth, or about the same as the Great Salt Lake in Utah (but much less than the Dead Sea's 34% salinity). If you could somehow reach Pluto's ocean, you could float easily.

As Nguyen explained, this level of density would explain the abundance of cracks seen on the surface. If the ocean were significantly less dense, the ice sheet would collapse, creating many more cracks than actually observed. If the ocean was much denser, there would be fewer cracks. "We evaluated an area like that of Zahava, where the density and thickness of the layer are just right," he said.

The space agencies have no plans to return to Pluto anytime soon, so most of its mysteries will remain for future generations of explorers. Whether it's called a planet, a dwarf planet or just one of the many objects on the outer edge of the solar system, it's worth studying, Nguyen said. "From my perspective, this is a planet."

The article was first published on the ampersand website and distributed via EUREKALERT

More of the topic in Hayadan:

8 תגובות

  1. The word: "probably", is a key word in every "scientific article".
    When a "scientist" scribbles an article and writes words at night based on 'mortifying calculations', 'delusions' and hallucinations, the "scientist" has no choice but to adapt the universe to his thesis.
    incidentally:
    Some articles and research papers of this kind have been thrown into the trash/shredders
    Or "inferior" in the cellars of the Achareons and dustbins?]

  2. A whole world of imagination, fiction without science, disconnected "mathematical models", zero proof, zero evidence, zero ability for the enlightened person to examine the outpouring of the mess of data presented without any substantiation, the product of the fevered imagination of people whose job it is to ensure that the flow of billions to NASA continues at full capacity. The adultery of science destroyed and murdered it. Day by day the world is losing more faith in these never ending delusions. And none of this has anything to do with religion, or any higher power.

  3. point

  4. When will you wake up from the lies?!
    Stars are not a physical place that can be reached. And the fact that you see stars in the sky does not prove that you also live on a planet.

  5. Excerpt from the article
    "For decades, planetary scientists assumed that Pluto could not support the existence of an ocean. The temperature at the surface is about -220 degrees Celsius, a temperature so cold that even gases like nitrogen and methane freeze into a solid mass. Water was not supposed to survive"

    And here their assessments collapsed
    Because all in all a simple figure was added
    And by the way, this is not a novelty. We often encounter such situations in the field of science.
    just what
    The part that has always been repeated is
    What the scientists say they believe is certain.
    Then one or two small figures appear and the scientists are amazed
    Then they break the head of how it takes place according to the laws of nature that we know.
    They find a solution that is, of course, in their minds
    Then again we are sure that this is the answer
    Or you don't find a solution, you just think that there must be a solution to the problem that has arisen
    And even a situation that contradicts their explanations.
    But they believe
    And again I repeat the word believe
    yes believe
    to find a solution
    Because they absolutely believe in their assumptions and theories as true.
    And so they reject any other possibility.
    For example
    What will happen if the Creator of the world is revealed like at Mount Sinai?
    Then this figure will make it clear to them that Hops
    The world and the entire universe ... could indeed be created within six days
    Just one fact that some scientists ignore.
    There is a creator of the world

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