NASA's Pluto Study: Pluto's 'Snakeskin' Terrains Similar To Earth's Features

Recent reports about NASA's Pluto Study reveal that the sharp, icy terrains found on the tiny planet's surface have an Earthly counterpart. Scientists found these icy features with the model used by meteorologists to forecast weather along with the computer simulation of the physics of evaporating ices.

Scientists of NASA again releases a new revelation on the planet Pluto, saying they found evidence of snow and ice on the smallest planet of the Solar System. A more surprising detail on the report points to the discovery that these features are also seen on Earth.

The snakeskin-like terrains captured by the New Horizons spacecraft of NASA while it is on its July 2015 flyby are found to be made of ice. These icy ridges are said to be 1,650 feet tall and are forming a bladed terrain found on Pluto's Tartarus Dorsa region. Upon studying the feature, scientists claim that they are similar to the penitentes found on Earth which are products of erosion on cold mountain regions.

According to NASA, a team of researchers led by John Moores of the York University in Toronto has utilized computer simulations to model the icy terrains found on the tiny planet. "This gargantuan size is predicted by the same theory that explains the formation of these features on Earth," Moores said in a statement about NASA's Pluto study as noted by York U. He also said that the team has successfully matched the size, the separation, direction and age of the icy ridges on Pluto with that of Earth's.

However, these similar features shared by Pluto and Earth are not totally the same as they are different in size and in composition. It was found out that Pluto's icy terrains are bigger at 1,640 feet tall and are set apart by 3.1 miles versus Earth's penitentes. Also, it was found out that Pluto's ridges are made up of nitrogen ices and methane while Earth's penitentes are made of snow or iced water.

Following this, scientists claim that the same features might also be found elsewhere in the Solar System given the same environmental conditions such as low temperature and atmosphere. Prior these penitentes-like feature, Pluto was also found out to harbor exotic icy mountains, a surface that evolves actively and a blue sky. Furthermore, there are speculations claiming the presence of underground oceans.

The New Horizons has already completed its data download task and is already on its way for a rendezvous with the Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 in 2019. Researchers though are still analyzing the data captured. Studies will still continue and NASA's Pluto study will still be furthered as the astronomers are in search for more evidences of possible aquatic life forms that might have survived in the supposed subsurface ocean of the dwarf planet.

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