Pluto's Heart Mystery Explained; Scientists Shed Light On How The Dwarf Planet Got It
During a flyby, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft snapped a photo of Pluto with a massive heart. It's not like a human heart, however, but a heart-shaped region made of nitrogen ice. Now, scientists have provided information on how it was formed and how it got there.
The massive heart lies in Pluto's 1,200-mile across region called Tombaugh Regio and the 1000-km-wode western lobe of the heart has been dubbed Sputnik Planum. The region has darker equatorial terrains as borders but the interior appears featureless, NASA reports in 2015.
However, in a new study published in the journal Nature, scientists have discovered that the heart shape is to a large degree created by highly volatile nitrogen ice. They analyzed data and observations collected during NASA's Horizons flyby to create an environmental simulation that details the history of the Dwarf planet in the last 50,000 Earth years.
The scientists suspect that the size of the massive heart on Pluto's surface may hint that there was a vast reservoir of nitrogen ice beneath the planet's surface. However, the new model shows that there is no deep ice reservoir present.
"This happens because of nitrogen's solid-gas equilibrium. At the bottom of the basin the pressure of the atmosphere - and therefore of gaseous nitrogen - is higher, thus the frost temperature is higher than the outside. As a result, nitrogen prefers to condense into ice there," explained study author, Tanguy Bertrand, at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France.
"Carbon monoxide ice, which is similarly volatile to nitrogen, was also found in be entirely sequestered with nitrogen in the basin. Methane ice, which is much less volatile at Pluto's temperatures, is not restricted to the Sputnik Planum glacier like nitrogen and carbon monoxide," he said, adding that the study's model shows that pure methane frosts cover both hemispheres seasonally.
However, the researchers said that the glacier will eventually change shape, in the long run, becoming large and then shrinking just like a beating heart.
2 NASA Astronauts Are Home from ISS, Proving SpaceX Can Safely Bring People to and from Space
After a two-month mission, SpaceX brings back home 2 astronauts, proving that it could transport people to and from space safely.
NASA Astronauts To Conduct 2 More Spacewalks This Month
In an effort to finish upgrading the power system of the International Space Station (ISS), NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken will conduct a pair of spacewalks Thursday, July 16, and Tuesday, July 21.
[Watch] NASA Announces Week Update: What Happened to the Artemis Program?
Could we be closer to getting to the moon? NASA provides updates on the progress.
Is Russia's Space Leader Jealous of SpaceX's Elon Musk?
Could Russia's space leader be jealous of Elon Musk's SpaceX's recent success?
Bullied Dreamer is Now a NASA Intern After Being Told Her Ethnicity and Gender Made Her Dream "Impossible"
A post on Linkedin by a certain Janelisse Morales Gonzalez revealed the story of a young dreamer who did not give up no matter what, even being bullied by her own professor. The post was uploaded on June 2 and has quickly generated thousands of views.
MORE IN ITECHPOST
At-Risk Mental Health for Students: Developing Resilience Among Students amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
At-Risk Mental Health for Students to help students struggling with their mental health, especially now amid the pandemic. It focuses more on developing students' resilience.
Tech Leaders and Health Authorities Join Forces, Launch New Initiative to Help Fight Pandemic and Future Epidemics
Two contact tracing apps have been successfully launched recently in Canada and Ireland. The open-source code underlying these apps has been contributed to a newly launched initiative to help other countries and U.S. states in the fight against the pandemic.
Fairy Tail Game Releases a Season Pass, a Week After It Was Launched
The anime RPG Fairy Tail from Koei Tecmo has just released a season pass that will release additional characters and content into the game, just a week after it was launched.