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Waspie_Dwarf

Three possible models of Pluto

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Research pair offer three possible models of Pluto ahead of New Horizons visit

(Phys.org) — Two space researchers, Amy Barr, with Brown University and Geoffrey Collins with Wheaton College, have published a paper in the journal Icarus in which they describe three possible interior models of the former planet Pluto. They suggest the possibilities include: an undifferentiated rock/ice mixture, a differentiated rock/ice mixture, and an ocean covered with ice. The third possibility suggests the likelihood, they claim, of tectonic action on the dwarf planet. A close up view of the planet by space probe New Horizons due to arrive next year, should help clarify which scenario is most likely.

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I am pleased to read that they are open to the possibility of undifferentiated rock with a hint of ice mixture.

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If there is water in Pluto, I wonder what's keeping the underground warm enough to have water.

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I think liquid water on Pluto is unlikely, it is the constant gravitational tugging of Jupiter and Saturn that keep not only subsurface "oceans" or "lakes" liquid beneath the surface of their satellites, but also keeps Io constantly volcanically erupting. Pluto would need to be the moon of a gas giant to receive the same effect. I would not expect Pluto's moon to have nearly the mass to either cause or keep water in a liquid form, even after a collision. Even if water was liquified during a collision, it's REALLY cold out near the Kuiper Belt. It would not likely stay liquid for long.

Can't wait to see the photo's from the spacecraft however; Pluto under the best telescopes reveals relatively little, we know so little about it.

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They appear to have totally discounted the 4th possible model that Pluto is a just a conglomerate of rocky material. There seems to be a rush to claim that Solar System bodies are actually massive water - ice bodies (hinting at some sort of "life"), to boost their funding.

Why even bother to make new speculation when within a year we should have some definitive data? Tectonic Dynamics? dont make me laugh....

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I am pleased to read that they are open to the possibility of undifferentiated rock with a hint of ice mixture.

Why???

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Posted (edited)

They appear to have totally discounted the 4th possible model that Pluto is a just a conglomerate of rocky material. There seems to be a rush to claim that Solar System bodies are actually massive water - ice bodies (hinting at some sort of "life"), to boost their funding.

That can be discounted quite easily. Since the diameter of Pluto is now known, and the orbit of Charon is also known it is a simple matter of applying Kepler's laws to determine the mass and therefore the density of Pluto.

As the density is too low to be a purely rocky body this can be discounted. Nothing to do with funding, everything to do with good science.

Why even bother to make new speculation when within a year we should have some definitive data?

Why not?

Working out in advance what features are likely to be observed given the possible scenarios is surely good science. It will help the imaging team know what to target once the first long range images come through.

Tectonic Dynamics? dont make me laugh....

Are you going to share with us your data and observations that make this possibility laughable?

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
typo.
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pluto_core.jpg
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LIke A-A's picture above shows, if Pluto was mostly water, then wouldn't the pressure of the miles and miles of ice above cause water to retain a liquid form?

Another option is if there are radioactive materials at Pluto's core, then that could also warm up water to the point of being liquid.

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LIke A-A's picture above shows, if Pluto was mostly water, then wouldn't the pressure of the miles and miles of ice above cause water to retain a liquid form?

Another option is if there are radioactive materials at Pluto's core, then that could also warm up water to the point of being liquid.

I would put money on Pluto surprising everyone in the same way the Grand Tour of the outer planets and moons surprised the scientists. I hope the mission is successful and nothing goes haywire, it takes such a long time to get there and I don't know if any other craft is planned for a Pluto mission.

I don't know the mission parameters, I assume it's a flyby and not orbital which is a shame, but that's what the physics and fuel supply dictate I suppose.

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I don't know the mission parameters, I assume it's a flyby and not orbital which is a shame, but that's what the physics and fuel supply dictate I suppose.

That is correct, although the fact that it is a fly-by could have a bonus. NASA are looking for Kuiper Belt Objects which would be in a suitable orbit for New Horizons to make an additional Fly-by of.

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LIke A-A's picture above shows, if Pluto was mostly water, then wouldn't the pressure of the miles and miles of ice above cause water to retain a liquid form?

The exact opposite in fact. As the pressure increases water can remain solid at a higher temperature.

Another option is if there are radioactive materials at Pluto's core, then that could also warm up water to the point of being liquid.

Given Pluto's small size I'm not sure it would have a large enough concentration of radioactive materials at it's core to still maintain it in a molten state, but we shall see in just over a year.

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Scary!

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The exact opposite in fact. As the pressure increases water can remain solid at a higher temperature.

Science Fail on me. :cry:

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Science Fail on me. :cry:

I had to google a phase diagram to check if I was right. I used to know this stuff.

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Why???

Like you have to ask, please.

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LIke A-A's picture above shows, if Pluto was mostly water, then wouldn't the pressure of the miles and miles of ice above cause water to retain a liquid form?

Another option is if there are radioactive materials at Pluto's core, then that could also warm up water to the point of being liquid.

You are right about the pressure of ice, that mixed with geothermal or tectonic action more than likely equates to water. Are you aware of the groundbreaking research led by the russians in antartica? This research at lake Vostok is considered a blueprint of sorts for similar missions to pluto or other moons. I heard they might deploy a cryobot or water submersible to fathom the depths - similar to what is envisioned for outer icy worlds. You might find this interesting as I did.

http://voiceofrussia.com/uk/news/2014_01_02/What-s-really-inside-Lake-Vostok-8507/

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