New Scientist magazine reports that Pluto may have an ocean.
(Above—A rendering of what might look like on the surface of Pluto. This image comes from the European Southern Observatory.)
“PLUTO could hide a liquid ocean beneath its icy shell. Indeed, other bodies on the solar system’s frigid fringe could also harbour subsurface oceans, and these could provide the conditions to sustain life. Temperatures on Pluto’s surface hover around -230 °C, but researchers have long wondered whether the dwarf planet might boast enough internal heat to sustain a liquid ocean under its icy exterior. Now Guillaume Robuchon and Francis Nimmo at the University of California, Santa Cruz, say there is a good chance it does.”
New Scientist is a great resource. I subscribe to the print edition.
There are other bodies in our Solar System. Jupiter’s moon Europa likely has an ocean.
The New Horizons space probe is currently flying out towards Pluto. Here is the New Horizons web site from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
This mission was launched in 2006 and will reach Pluto in 2015. This is the first mission ever to Pluto.
A great book to learn about this history of the various satellites and missions that humans have blasted off into space beginning with Sputnik in 1957 is Jane’s Space Recognition Guide by Peter Bond.
As the pace of discoveries out in space picks up, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives want to cut funding for the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. This project would be known as the James Webb Space Telescope.
There has been some dispute about if Pluto is a planet or not. Pluto is not currently classified as a planet. It is now termed as a “dwarf planet.”
I don’t find this dispute very interesting. Here is a National Geographic story on this issue.
Despite the ice exterior, Pluto may have an internal source of warmth. This is yet further proof that no matter how a person may appear or seem on the outside, you never know what they are thinking or how they will act.