MIT: “An Interior Ocean May be Driving Geologic Activity on Pluto”

While the New Horizons mission may be dubbed a success, BBC stated that the information received is only 4-5% of the data that has been gathered from the recent space mission.


The voyage to the last unexplored planet and beyond opened up a new realm for the space mission to explore, as the New Horizons ventures deeper into the Kuiper Belt, and potentially, beyond.

Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 15.

Scientists watching as the first images of Pluto are revealed. Captured images of the planet were obtained from 280 thousand miles or 450 thousand km away.

Flowing ice as well as an unexpected extended haze are among some of the newest features discovered by NASA’s New Horizons mission, which shows distant Pluto to be an icy world of mystery. Photos show proof of nitrogen ice flows, carbon monoxide, and methane ices. The prevailing theory of the formation of Pluto system is that Pluto collided with another large body, and much of the debris from this impact went into orbit around Pluto and eventually coalesced to form Charon. The lower right edge of the planet in this view now lacks high-resolution color coverage. Furthermore, David Grinspoon. a NASA scientist in the New Horizons Center, has suggested that the aforementioned dark patches, could point towards a radioactive surface, which could result in ice melting into water between the planet’s surface and its core. Wonderful. The names – which still need to be made official – on Pluto come from many cultures in all parts of Earth. This indicates that it was having less rock and more ice. Instead, we found tectonic ridges, chasms, and mountains, along with a strangely dark red stain covering its north polar region. The Tombaugh Regio region was named after the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930.

But the highly detailed pictures gave the New Horizons team a welcome problem: What do they call all those craters, plains and mountain ranges?

A portion of the first preliminary map on Pluto.

Although informal for now, these feature names follow an approved scheme and have been submitted to the IAU for approval. “We’ll look for signals of signs of life within those channels”, he said. (Resolved images of Styx and Kerberos have not yet been returned as of this writing.).

Although New Horizons recently said goodbye to Pluto, we’re really only just saying hello. We’ve marvelled at the space mission that visited her – so mind-boggling you can’t quite comprehend it. The spaceship flew a staggering five billion kilometres in 10 years to get to Pluto, yet it was still communicating perfectly with Earth when it got there – while my cellphone usually doesn’t work in Vermont.


As Michael Summers, a member of the atmosphere science team, pointed out at the press briefing, the two lobes of the heart are not the same. New Horizons spacecraft is nearing its July 14 fly-by when it will close to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). Getting all those observations back will take some 16 months and won’t complete until the fall of 2016.

Image credit USPS