Parts of the terrain of Pluto that could have been formed by glaciers
On Pluto, strange ridge-like landscapes were noticed, possibly remaining as evidence of the retreat of ancient glaciers. When in 2015, the NASA space ship New Horizons flew over a dwarf planet, it captured an amazing variety of landscapes. Some of the bizarre structures emanated from the ice fragments left after the retreat of the glaciers.
Ridge-like territories are represented by parallel ridges with a length of several kilometers and at least 100 m in height. They are different from everything we see on Earth, so scientists are studying maps and photos from the New Horizons apparatus in order to understand their origin.
In-depth research has shown that the ribbed areas coincide with the surface fault from the ancient tectonic activity. Analysis of craters in the area suggests that the hills appeared about 4 billion years ago, at the beginning of Pluto’s history and immediately after the formation of the Sputnik Plain basin. Preliminary studies have shown that before the advent of the Satellite Plain, glaciers made of nitrogen ice were present on Pluto. They later sublimated, turning from a solid into a gas, and condensed on colder plains. These ridges indicate that the glaciers were spread on Pluto.
It is believed that ridge-shaped territories were created from pieces of water ice separated from the crust of Pluto during the period of tectonic activity. Water ice is inferior in nitrogen density, so the pieces will be sent to the top of the glacier, and then will remain when the glaciers are gone.
The ridges are endowed with the same size and shape. But the mystery is still valid. Scientists should be puzzled over why ridges point in the direction in which they act. But this is another step towards understanding the Pluto system.