Two recently released studies seem to confirm the existence of a liquid pool of water on Pluto as they are also debating the possible existence of life forms in its ocean of toxic waters.
Ever since its first fly-by over the dwarf planet’s surface, the NASA New Horizons mission has revealed important data about Pluto.
One of the most important and well known such discoveries is the existence of the so-called Sputnik Planitia.
The 325,000 square miles wide basin is the heart-shaped home of a considerable quantity of nitrogen ice. The Planitia’s surface was also observed to have been decorated with cracks and fissures.
Two recent studies published in the Nature journal in November and on December 1st seem to offer new data in regards to Pluto ocean of toxic waters.
Both the researchers are based on the July 2015 fly-bys carried out by the New Horizons spacecraft.
As the first study presented the possible existence of such a subsurface ocean, the new study seems to come and confirm the findings.
The second study is also presenting the potential componence of such a water body as it argues that it may be rich in ammonia.
Previous studies hypostasized that the ocean of toxic waters may have been made up of alcohols, hydrocarbons, and other, more complex molecules.
Bill McKinnon, the lead researcher of the latest Pluto study also presented the possible existence of ammonia in the same waters.
The chemical, which is more commonly used on Earth as a window cleaner, may help further denote the toxicity of the dwarf planet’s waters.
Studies believe that Pluto may be hosting a very cold, salty, and ammonia-rich, rather noxious subsurface ocean.
The element’s presence has already been detected on both the planet’s big and smaller moons. Traces of ammonia have been found both on Charon and on a small moon.
As the new study seems to indicate the presence of ammonia, the initial one seemed to indicate that subsurface ocean is still active.
The cracks and fissures revealed by the Sputnik Planitia were determined to have been caused by Pluto’s expansion rather than contraction process.
As such, this expansion may be explained by the presence of a subsurface, shifting ocean as it was freezing over.
As the water body has mostly been confirmed, scientists have now turned to wonder what kind of life forms could inhabit the ocean of toxic waters.
If the planet’s subsurface waters are proven to be liquid, the ammonia levels of such waters would have to register extreme levels.
Scientists explain that such levels could be amongst plausible explanations for the waters not freezing over. However, this would also mean that they would not be able to accommodate fish, Earth marine life, or even micro-organisms.
As the area is also covered by an ice sheet, the most probable, if any life forms would probably be the equivalent of extremely basic forms.
With scientists now disputing on the life forms questions, McKinnon points that the actual existence of such an ocean will have to first be solidly proven.
This may be determined during a future mission which could carry out gravity measurements or radar soundings for its subsurface.
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