Despite the fact that tiny Pluto, which is even smaller than our Moon, is so far from the Sun, has had and continues to have an active geological life from the very beginning. This was reported in a study published on Thursday.
The proof is itself Pluto, a close-up of which was observed for the first time using the New Horizons NASA spacecraft on July 14, 2015.
Considering the majority of high-resolution images obtained after a flyby, scientists say that Pluto's mountains, glacier flows, rotated ice blocks, volcanic mounds and other features are found in much larger quantities than on large warm planets, for example, on Mars.
The physical and chemical conditions on Pluto, located about 40 times farther from the Sun than the Earth, played an unusual and many unforeseen role. Volatile cryogenic ices, such as nitrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, evaporate in the misty and surprisingly compact atmosphere of Pluto. Internal heating, entangled from the natural decay of radioactive elements in the rocks of Pluto and other sources, probably holds an ocean of water rich in ammonia under the frozen surface of a dwarf planet. “Now we have half a dozen worlds, like (Saturn’s satellite) Enceladus, (Jupiter’s moons) Europe and Ganymede, and now Pluto, in the depths of which there are oceans,” Alan Stern, a leading scientist at New Horizons from the South-West Research, told Discovery News Institute.
“It is interesting that only Earth carries its ocean on the outside,” he said. - From the surface we do not see them. Who knew that the oceans could be quite common? ”.
Regarding the prospects for life on Pluto, Sten said: "If at any time you have liquid water, astrobiologists will be interested in this place."
“For the existence of life on Earth, the planet will need water, a source of energy, the right chemical elements and time,” added planetary scientist William McKinnon from the University of Washington at St. Louis.
“All that we can say is that Pluto has an ocean, and we think that this ocean has been preserved to this day. This type of ocean is deep inside Pluto in total darkness. But it lies between the floating shell of water ice and the rocky structure, therefore, in contact with the rocks. There will be a modest heat leak. Of course, this possibility is not excluded, but everything about life on Pluto is just speculation, ”McKinnon told Discovery News. The scientists of New Horizons also discovered that the primary satellite of Pluto Charon was once active, but became geologically dead within about 2 billion years, and its liquid ocean has now frozen.
Related studies show that Charon and the four small moons of Pluto - Nikta, Hydra, Kerber and Styx - were formed from debris, exploded in space after a body the size of Pluto and Pluto crashed into each other about 4 billion years ago.