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Space & Astronomy

Pluto may have an ocean over 100km deep

September 24, 2016 | Comment icon 13 comments

Pluto's ocean could be 10 times deeper than the oceans here on Earth. Image Credit: NASA
Scientists believe that the dwarf planet's interior may be filled with large quantities of liquid water.
Pluto surprised everyone when New Horizons beamed back the first close-up photographs last year, revealing this distant, icy world to be covered in a wide array of unique and notable surface features.

"Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we've seen in the solar system," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern.
In a new study published last week, researchers took a closer look at Sputnik Planum, a distinctive heart-shaped crater situated on the planet's midsection which has long proved intriguing.

Now the team believes that its unusual properties could be explained by the presence of a large ocean beneath the surface - one that could be up to 10 times deeper than Earth's oceans.

"If Sputnik Planum is indeed a positive mass anomaly - and it appears as though it is - this ocean layer of at least 100 kilometers has to be there," said Brandon Johnson, a geologist from Brown University who headed up the new study. "It's pretty amazing to me that you have this body so far out in the solar system that still may have liquid water."

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (13)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
That figure of 1500 times dimmer than Earth gives the impression that the surface of Pluto must be extremely dark, but it needs to be put into context. The full moon is around 400,000 times dimmer than the sun fro the surface of the Earth. That means, at local noon, the sun on Pluto is more than 260 times brighter than the full moon on Earth, easily bright enough to read a book by.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
My statement isn't misleading at all: it is†factual. The sunlight reaching Pluto is 1500 times less than the sunlight reaching Earth. We can see in the moonlight because the iris of our eyes widens to take in more light, as I pointed out. Like I said, the light level is the same as replacing a 100 watt bulb with a bulb of less than 0.1 watt. Of course people will be able to see if they were ever to go to Pluto, but compared to Earth it is pretty dark out there. Edit: I should also point out that I said it would be "pretty dark" at Pluto†and not "extremely dark", which is what†you imply I said.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
I didn't say it was misleading, I said it needed to be put into context.† Having pointed out that I didn't say your post was misleading I am forced to ask how is this NOT misleading since we are comparing levels of sunlight. Once again we need context and genuine figures. The Earth receives about 1380 watts per m2 at the surface from the sun. 1m2 is half the size of the average broom cupboard. In the UK the average sized living room is 4.8m2 x 4.8m2 which is 23.04m2. 1.38 watts per m2 equates to using a bulb of just over 31 watts. Dim maybe, but 300 times brighter than your "non-misleading, fa... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Correction to the above post: My figure of 1380 W/m2 is for sunlight at the top of the Earth's atmosphere, not at the surface as I said. Some of this light is absorbed by the atmosphere, so the surface receives about 1000 W/m2. However this does not change the fact that Derek's comparison is out by a factor of 300. † Edited to add: It is also worth pointing out that my corrected figure for illuminating the would be a 23 Watt bulb. A modern, energy saving bulb rated at 23 watts is equivalent to an old, style, incandescent bulb rated at around 92 Watts. Using real figures often puts things in a ... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
Where did I say you said my statement is misleading? I simply said my statement isn't misleading. You said that the light being 1500 times lower gives the impression that it is "extremely" dark on Pluto. I said it is "pretty" dark on Pluto. I mentioned that the eye can adjust to light levels, and so was using the light levels within a room as an example of relative brightness. I was not hinting at anything - I was straightforward.†People can make up their own minds. Imagine you are in a room with a 100 watt light bulb and your eyes have adjusted to that level of brightness. Now switch off the ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Great find never the less.† The amount of light really doesn't come into play for the photos as IR cameras work in almost no light if any at all.† I'm sure NASA has some technology available that the every day person doesn't.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
That was the point I was making. The cameras can operate on†low light levels, which gives the impression that it is brighter at Pluto than it would appear to our eyes.
Comment icon #11 Posted by BeastieRunner 6 years ago
Man ... that would be so cool if that is proven correct.
Comment icon #12 Posted by FTWind 6 years ago
Yeah some people are on this site soley†to troll. They go around looking to try to make themselves look smarter so as to make themselves feel better about themselves. Sad really...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
It is, and then when you ask them a question about why they misrepresented what you said, they go quiet.

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