NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has captured strange formations on Pluto’s surface during its historic flyby on July 14, 2015. The new finding shows that Pluto has an active life and that the body possess icebergs which float on nitrogen ice, confirming the ever going theory that Pluto is active, against the debate that it has been cold and dead.
These unique, distinctive polygons are found in the Sputnik Planum regions of the distant planet. The observation and the data collected by NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft last year helped the team in determining the depth of solid nitrogen ice within the cold planet. The data collected at the heart shaped Sputnik Planum is less than ten years old. This data clearly proves that the dwarf planet is active, and it has gone through a lot of activity in recent time.
According to the researchers, it is believed that the polygons seen on the surface of Pluto are because of a phenomenon known as Rayleigh-Benard convection cells. Even though the features stretch to 12 to 18 miles across but it is quite similar to the icebergs on Earth where only the tip of the features is visible above the surface.
Commenting on this latest development, William B. McKinnon, Washington University in St. Louis, says, “This will be the first time that we will find out what these strange welts on the surface of Pluto are.”
Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator, said, “In the 50-plus years of planetary explorations, Sputnik Planum is an amazing geological discovery. Whereas the finding by McKinnon and others on the science team that current day ice convection creates this spectacular and vast area is one of the most successful New Horizons Mission.”
Researchers believe and are hopeful that by calculating the depth of the pools they will be able to determine how this mountain of ice moved within the nitrogen deposits. This study was published in the Journal Nature.