Did you know that there might be water in Pluto?

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An investigation shows that the planet has an insulating layer of gas hydrates that allows the existence of an ocean

Did you know that there might be water in Pluto?

Pluto would have water under its frozen surface. This is stated in a press release from Hokkaido University, the Institute of Earth and Life Sciences at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokushima University, Osaka University, and Kobe University.

Leer en español: ¿Sabías que podría haber agua en Plutón?

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, computer simulations show convincing evidence that there is an insulating layer of gas hydrates that prevents a subsurface ocean from freezing under the icy exterior of Pluto.


Even from three billion miles away, Pluto still knows how to be romantic. On Jul. 13, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft sent us this love note of one of Pluto's most dominant features. The “heart,” estimated to be 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across at its widest point, rests just above the equator. (The angle of view displays mostly the northern hemisphere.) The heart’s diameter is about the same distance as from Denver to Chicago, in America’s heartland. New Horizons traveled nearly a decade to receive its summer valentine, launching on Jan. 19, 2006 — and is still collecting important data for us. On New Year’s Day 2019, New Horizons flew by the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft: Ultima Thule. Tag someone you want to pass this Pluto Valentine onto! Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI #nasa #space #pluto #science #explore #spacecraft #newhorizons #discovery #heart #valentinesday #valentines #happyvday #solarsystem

Una publicación compartida de NASA (@nasa) el


Although initially the data contradicted because if there were an ocean it should have been frozen millions of years ago, scientists raise the possibility that this layer maintains a liquid ocean on the small planet.

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The approach began in 2015, after the ship New Horizons de la Nasa could take images of the topography of Pluto. In the images, you can see a white ellipsoidal basin called Sputnik Planitia, which is the size of Texas. Scientists believe that "there is a subsurface ocean beneath the ice layer thins Planitia Sputnik", according to EurkeAlert.

The layer that would keep the ocean isolated would be composed of gas hydrates. These "are crystalline ice solids formed by a gas trapped inside molecular water cages. They are very viscous, have low thermal conductivity and, therefore, could provide insulating properties, "explains the same publication.

The simulations carried out by the team of researchers show that this layer lasts a billion years to form and that the gas would be methane. These results are consistent with the unusual atmosphere of Pluto that is rich in nitrogen and poor in methane. In addition to maintaining this ocean, there would also be the possibility that the same thing would happen on icy moons.

Shunichi Kamata, leader of the research, says that "this could mean that there are more oceans in the universe than previously thought, which makes the existence of extraterrestrial life more plausible."


LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

Translated from "¿Sabías que podría haber agua en Plutón?"

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