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Space & Astronomy

Hidden ocean could support life on Pluto

By T.K. Randall
September 1, 2015 · Comment icon 15 comments



Could there be microbial life forms living beneath Pluto's surface ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 ESO
Professor Brian Cox has put forward the notion that Pluto may he capable of harboring primitive life.
To date the only life we know of in the entire universe exists here on Earth, yet as our understanding of the other worlds in our solar system increases, so too does the number of potentially habitable environments within our reach that we had previously been oblivious to.

Chief among these are the icy moons such as Europa and Enceladus which, while seemingly inhospitable on the surface, are believed to be home to subterranean oceans of warm water that could provide the perfect haven for the development of primitive extraterrestrial life forms.

Now thanks to data returned by the New Horizons spacecraft we have also been able to add Pluto to that list. This small, distant world was originally believed to be a desolate and inactive body, but once photographs of its smooth plains, icy mountains and mysterious surface features started to return it soon became apparent that there was a lot more to this dwarf planet than anyone had realized.
TV presenter and physicist Brian Cox recently weighed in on the findings on Pluto by suggesting that if a subterranean ocean does exist beneath its surface then it could potentially support life.

It may be many years however before scientists will be able to determine this for sure.

"What science is telling us now is that complex life is probably rare," said Professor Cox.

"We're physically insignificant and yet probably very valuable."

Source: Tech Times | Comments (15)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
I like that comment, "we're physically insignificant, and yet, probably very valuable." We are as physically insignificant as a grain of sand. But without a whole bunch of them we don't have beaches. So they are important, too.
Comment icon #7 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
Sustaining life as we know it really involves more then just water. Carbon is just as necessary. If these moons and dwarf planets prove to have a good amount of carbon on them, in one form or another, that significantly increase the chance of life, IMHO.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
If these moons and dwarf planets prove to have a good amount of carbon on them, in one form or another, that significantly increase the chance of life, IMHO. Carbon compounds are the easy part, the solar system is teeming with them. It's the liquid water that's the rare part.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Sundew 8 years ago
Carbon compounds are the easy part, the solar system is teeming with them. It's the liquid water that's the rare part. That's the part that eluded me, without the tidal tugging of some gas giant you are not going to have liquid water on such a small body so far from the sun. Unless Charon has enough gravity to accomplish this, a liquid ocean below the surface seems unlikely.
Comment icon #10 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
That's the part that eluded me, without the tidal tugging of some gas giant you are not going to have liquid water on such a small body so far from the sun. Unless Charon has enough gravity to accomplish this, a liquid ocean below the surface seems unlikely. Or, unless it has a lot of radioactives to create heat. But I think that is unlikely also.
Comment icon #11 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
Carbon compounds are the easy part, the solar system is teeming with them. It's the liquid water that's the rare part. I guess carbon monoxide has been seen frozen on the surface of Pluto, so very likely there is some under/in the ice.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
That's the part that eluded me, without the tidal tugging of some gas giant you are not going to have liquid water on such a small body so far from the sun. Unless Charon has enough gravity to accomplish this, a liquid ocean below the surface seems unlikely. Or, unless it has a lot of radioactives to create heat. But I think that is unlikely also. How unlikely you think it is is rather irrelevant. If there is no internal heat in Pluto then the surface should be ancient. If the surface is ancient then it should be heavily cratered... it isn't (and neither is Charon). If it isn't heavily cratere... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
How unlikely you think it is is rather irrelevant. If there is no internal heat in Pluto then the surface should be ancient. If the surface is ancient then it should be heavily cratered... it isn't (and neither is Charon). If it isn't heavily cratered then this implies recent geological activity which, in turn, implies internal heat. I don't think what is unlikely is irrelevant. Surely not all processes that could cause the surface to be renewed have the same chance of being the real reason? Thus discussion to the point of figuring out the most likely reason is productive.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
I don't think what is unlikely is irrelevant.. I didn't say what is unlikely is irrelevant, I said what you think is unlikely is irrelevant... a big difference. The point I am making is that regardless of how unlikely you think it is the evidence disagrees.
Comment icon #15 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
I didn't say what is unlikely is irrelevant, I said what you think is unlikely is irrelevant... a big difference. The point I am making is that regardless of how unlikely you think it is the evidence disagrees. I think actually it should be said that there isn't enough direct evidence right now to decide what is unlikely or not regarding the surface of Pluto, rather then the evidence disagreeing with what I wrote. I made my opinion based on what I know of objects from the Kuiper Belt, which seems to indicate that radioactives are rare out there. Yet, I do admit I could be wrong.


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