BEACON TRANSCRIPT – If you thought that Earth’s geology is intriguing, wait until you see what Pluto has in store for us. New Horizon snaps new pics of Pluto’s floating hills, glacier-like formations which extend over several kilometers.
According to the North American Space Agency, during its last flyby, New Horizon manage to immortalize a highly peculiar geological event of Pluto. The hills in question, located in the much larger Sputnik Planum, are vast ice formations. From a morphological point of view, it would seem the icy hills are very similar to the mountains located west of the Sputnik Planum.
The scientists working for NASA had the courtesy of explaining the geological phenomenon. Water, being less dense than nitrogen, has the physical property of staying on top of things, so to say. This means that the ice glaciers on Pluton basically float on top of the nitrogen sea. Moreover, it would seem that the ice formation is very similar to the icebergs found on earth.
Most geologists agree that these massive icebergs floating on the sea of nitrogen were once part of Pluto’s planetary mass. Somehow they’ve detached and got caught in the nitrogen sea.
When these ice formations enter the central area of the Sputnik Planum, they become entangled by the convective force of the nitrogen ice. This force is capable of pushing the ice caps to the edge of Planum. In this location, the ice caps begin to conglomerate forming a compact cell that spans around 20 kilometers.
According to their measurement, it would seem that the largest formation of floating ice hills is located in the northern part of the Planum, a region dubbed Challenger Coll, a name used to honor the crew who lost their lives in the Challenger incident. The conglomerate occupies an area of 60 by 35 kilometers.
New Horizon snaps new pics of Pluto’s floating hills during its last flyby. Moreover, the pictures provided by the space probe prove to us that even the smallest planet has some aces up its sleeve when it comes to provoking our thirst for knowledge.
The space probe managed to snap the pictures depicting Pluto’s floating hills from an altitude of 16.000 kilometers. To get the picture, the probe used a pretty nifty tool called the Multispectral Visible Imagining camera.
And one would imagine that the quality of a picture is pretty high considering the altitude. According to NASA, the space probe’s multispectral camera managed to squeeze 320 kilometers in just one pixel. The photos depicting Pluto’s floating hills were taken on the 15th of July, 2015.