New Mysteries on Pluto

New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby Spider » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:55 pm

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Turns out, Pluto is geologically active. Very active in, fact...at least on geological terms. The estimates right now place the surface of the planet at no more than 100 million years old, which means there is enough energy coming from somewhere to be actively resurfacing the planet. There is basically jack shit for impact craters on this, a planet that by rights should be extremely well peppered. We've got examples of icy moons with low rates of cratering...but the systems there are driven by tremendous gravitational forces from the gas giants they orbit. There is no such source anywhere near Pluto, and there is not enough potential for tidal forces from Charon. Plus, we've now confirmed mountain ranges that rival anything on earth. Could be these are mostly ice formations, maybe similar to the methane/nitrogen ice cap they've finally confirmed. But...this also requires serious energy.

Info keeps rolling in. Very cool mission.

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2015/07140911-new-horizons-best-look-at.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
http://earthsky.org/space/pluto-charon-new-horizons-flyby-updates-july-2015
http://space.io9.com/this-is-what-weve-learned-about-pluto-in-the-past-24-ho-1717476117
Last edited by Spider on Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby fstarcstar » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:00 pm

Yeah but we have known about mountain ranges and all kinds of other things on planets already, whats the significance of the actions on Pluto itself?
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby Spider » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:04 pm

Um. Knowledge? Its an exploration mission. Learning these things is the whole point. Also, as I said in the post, right now its very mysterious where all the energy needed for this is coming from.

There's mountains on Mars...so who cares about the rest of the solar system? Not sure what your point is.
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby Spider » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:08 pm

Previously, this was our best image of Charon:
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Now we've got this:
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby John Galt » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:23 pm

Spider wrote:Um. Knowledge? Its an exploration mission. Learning these things is the whole point. Also, as I said in the post, right now its very mysterious where all the energy needed for this is coming from.

There's mountains on Mars...so who cares about the rest of the solar system? Not sure what your point is.


that wasn't his question nor his point. why are mountain ranges significant on pluto is his question. why is lack of cratering significant. why is volcanism significant. you stated a bunch of stuff and stated that it is significant but you never said why it's significant
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby eynon81 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:24 pm

fstarcstar wrote:Yeah but we have known about mountain ranges and all kinds of other things on planets already, whats the significance of the actions on Pluto itself?



the level of geological activity is very surprising.
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby Spider » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:31 pm

John Galt wrote:
Spider wrote:Um. Knowledge? Its an exploration mission. Learning these things is the whole point. Also, as I said in the post, right now its very mysterious where all the energy needed for this is coming from.

There's mountains on Mars...so who cares about the rest of the solar system? Not sure what your point is.


that wasn't his question nor his point. why are mountain ranges significant on pluto is his question. why is lack of cratering significant. why is volcanism significant. you stated a bunch of stuff and stated that it is significant but you never said why it's significant


As I said in my post, the significance comes from the apparent lack of something to power the processes.

Turns out, Pluto is geologically active. Very active in, fact...at least on geological terms. The estimates right now place the surface of the planet at no more than 100 million years old, which means there is enough energy coming from somewhere to be actively resurfacing the planet. There is basically jack shit for impact craters on this, a planet that by rights should be extremely well peppered. We've got examples of icy moons with low rates of cratering...but the systems there are driven by tremendous gravitational forces from the gas giants they orbit. There is no such source anywhere near Pluto, and there is not enough potential for tidal forces from Charon. Plus, we've now confirmed mountain ranges that rival anything on earth. Could be these are mostly ice formations, maybe similar to the methane/nitrogen ice cap they've finally confirmed. But...this also requires serious energy.

The mystery about this stuff happening in a place thought to have so little energy to make it happen is the central theme of my post. I guess I wasn't clear enough. Apologies.
Last edited by Spider on Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby The Comrade » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:32 pm

i thought pluto went through a cycle of close to the sun->ices melt in to gasses further from the sun-> gasses refreeze and fall to the surface. that constant freezing and sublimation would cause a lot of chaos on such a little planet.
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby Spider » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:41 pm

The Comrade wrote:i thought pluto went through a cycle of close to the sun->ices melt in to gasses further from the sun-> gasses refreeze and fall to the surface. that constant freezing and sublimation would cause a lot of chaos on such a little planet.


As I understand it, that's more a matter of sublimation and precipitation. Whats interesting (at least to the people in the links) is the geological resurfacing of the planet. People are talking about radioactively driven geology! As for the atmosphere cycle. one guy at the planetary society was suggesting that Charon might be stripping some of that gas off, which is how we might get that reddish ice cap over there. The height of the mountains on Pluto suggests that the deposited ice layers are actually really thin.
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Re: New Mysteries on Pluto

Postby The Comrade » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:47 pm

yeah but the going theory is that the ice settles pretty deep in to the surface of pluto. rapid sublimation would cause all sorts of geological features i imagine.
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