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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Pluto: a Frozen 'Water World'

Pluto: a Frozen 'Water World'

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, February 1, 2016/Categories: natural history, space science, environment

                              Presence of WaterIce (blue) on Pluto (credit: New Horizons)

New analysis of data gathered during the New Horizons encounter with Pluto shows the dwarf-planet is a frozen "water world". Depicted in false color using infrared measurements during the 2015 Pluto fly-by, the presence of water was far larger than expected.

According to New Horizons investigators:

"water ice is Pluto's crustal "bedrock" on which more volatile hydrocarbon ices paint seasonally changing patterns. The map (on right) was produced using various spectral filters shows water ice to be considerably more widespread across Pluto's surface than previously known. The map shows little or no water ice in the places on the western region of Pluto’s “heart” and the far north on the encounter hemisphere. This indicates that at least in these regions, Pluto's ice bedrock is hidden beneath other ices such as methane, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide."

At Pluto's -380F degree temperatures, water ice is as hard as diamonds and forms the mountain ranges previously discovered by New Horizons.



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