New Photo Shows Pluto’s ‘Heart’ Actually A Vast, Frozen Wasteland
Pluto’s heart-shaped area has been wooing earthlings since NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured an image of the 1,200-mile-wide feature last week.
Unfortunately, it’s not as adorable as it may seem.
A portion of the heart is actually a huge frozen plain that may contain carbon monoxide ice, according to data the space agency released Friday.
Scientists believe the area, informally named the “Sputnik Plains,” is relatively young — no more than 100 million years old — because it doesn’t have any craters.
“This terrain is not easy to explain,” Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said in a release. “The discovery of vast, craterless, very young plains on Pluto exceeds all pre-flyby expectations.”
The plains are bordered by 11,000-foot-tall mountains scientists believe are made of frozen water rather than frozen methane or nitrogen, which are found elsewhere around Pluto.
“At Pluto’s temperatures, water-ice behaves more like rock,” deputy GGI lead Bill McKinnon of Washington University, St. Louis, explained in a separate statement.
See a NASA animation of the area, below:
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