Surprise! Pluto may have had an underground ocean from the very beginning

Pluto may be a more habitable world than scientists had thought. Though Pluto is now famously frigid, it may have started off as a hot world that formed rapidly and violently, a new study finds. This result suggests Pluto may have possessed an underground ocean since early on in its life, potentially improving its chances of hosting life, researchers said.

Previous work assumed Pluto originated from cold and icy rock clumping together in the distant Kuiper Belt, the ring of objects beyond Neptune’s orbit. Although there is evidence that Pluto currently possesses a liquid ocean beneath its thick frozen shell, researchers have suggested this subsurface ocean developed long after Pluto formed, after ice melted due to heat from radioactive elements in Pluto’s core. Now scientists argue that instead of a cold formation, Pluto had a hot start, one full of explosive force. “When we look at Pluto today, we see a very cold frozen world, with a surface temperature of about 45 Kelvin [minus 380 degrees Fahrenheit, and minus 228 degrees Celsius],” study lead author Carver Bierson, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told “I find it amazing that by looking at the geology recorded in that surface, we can infer Pluto had a rapid and violent formation that warmed the interior enough to form a subsurface water ocean.”

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Triton, Neptune’s largest moon contains many mysteries yet to be discovered. Its attributes have long been unknown to scientists. Photographic images taken by Voyager 2 in 1989 showed glimpses of its true uniqueness. However, still to this day, further investigation is required to greater our understanding. Therefore, it would be the most suitable moon to send a robotic spacecraft to.

In the past, we have only been able to see half of what this moon contains. Through the eyes of Voyager 2 passing by on its mission to study the outer planets, images of a grey, brown moon were taken. In these photos, we saw that the surface contained a thin layer of frozen nitrogen with occasional volcanic plains. It also had scattered geysers which erupted nitrogen gas. Data sent back by Voyager 2 showed that the atmosphere contained mainly nitrogen, although there was a small percentage of methane, mainly due to its volcanic activity. Its mantle is made of ice with a core believed to be a combination of rock and metal; however, this is still undetermined.