NASA study reveals liquid water beneath the icy surface of Pluto –


New Delhi:

The curiosity that surrounds Pluto never ends. A recent study by NASA has revealed the presence of icy worlds in our outer solar system and that there is a high probability of the presence of water below the icy surface.

The reason behind this revelation is based on the badumption that the heat generated by the gravitational pull of the moons may have caused collisions that could have spread the liquid water beneath the icy surface.

"These objects should be considered as potential reservoirs of water and life," said Prabal Saxena of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of the research published in Icarus on November 24. "If our study is correct, we can now have more places in our solar system that possess some of the critical elements for extraterrestrial life."

The team used the equations for tidal warming and calculated their contribution to the "heat budget" for a wide variety of hypothetical and discovered TNO-moon systems, including the Eris-Dysnomia system. Eris is the second largest of the TNO currently known after Pluto.

"We found that tidal warming can be a turning point that may have preserved oceans of liquid water beneath the surface of large TNOs like Pluto and Eris to this day," said Wade Henning of NASA Goddard and University from Maryland, College Park, co-author of the study.

The researchers found that gravitational interaction with the moon can generate enough heat within a transneptunian object to significantly extend the life span of an underground ocean.

( With entries from NASA)

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