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Space & Astronomy

Pluto's moon Charon reveals ancient ocean

February 19, 2016 | Comment icon 5 comments



An image of Charon taken by the New Horizons probe. Image Credit: NASA
New images from the New Horizons probe suggest that Charon once had a sub-surface ocean of liquid water.
Situated 3.6 billion miles away in the cold, distant reaches of the solar system, the small world of Pluto had always seemed like an unlikely place to find signs of liquid water.

Now though scientists have revealed that not only is there evidence of water on Pluto, its moon Charon may have also been home to a sub-surface ocean of liquid water in the distant past.

The discovery was made thanks to images returned by NASA's New Horizons probe which show huge faults and chasms on Charon's surface - some four times deeper than the Grand Canyon.
Scientists believe that these huge geological features were formed when Charon's sub-surface ocean froze and expanded - pushing the surface up from beneath and creating huge fractures.

"We thought the probability of seeing such interesting features on this satellite of a world at the far edge of our solar system was low," said SETI planetary scientist Ross Beyer.

"But I couldn't be more delighted with what we see."



Source: The Verge | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Nnicolette 6 years ago
I wonder if life in planet interiors is the norm and we are just lucky enough to be in a rare place where the surface is hospitable.
Comment icon #2 Posted by BeastieRunner 6 years ago
I wonder if life in planet interiors is the norm and we are just lucky enough to be in a rare place where the surface is hospitable. That would be crazy! Imagine what that would do to the universe as we know it.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
That would be crazy! Imagine what that would do to the universe as we know it. What's crazy about it? Why would it change the universe as we know it? We now know or suspect that Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede and possibly Callisto as well as Saturnís moon Enceladus have subsurface liquid water oceans. The only world we know of to have a liquid water at the surface is Earth. So in our solar system the world's which can support subsurface life out number the world's which can support it on the surface 3 or 4 to 1.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Sundew 6 years ago
An underground waterway, you would almost expect that from a moon named Charon.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Bavarian Raven 6 years ago
What's crazy about it? Why would it change the universe as we know it? We now know or suspect that Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede and possibly Callisto as well as Saturnís moon Enceladus have subsurface liquid water oceans. The only world we know of to have a liquid water at the surface is Earth. So in our solar system the world's which can support subsurface life out number the world's which can support it on the surface 3 or 4 to 1. If (a big if!) though three or four "planets" in our solar system independently evolved life, that would be pretty amazing. And that'd mean the universe wou... [More]


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