Ice Volcanoes Reshape Pluto and Hint at a Hidden Ocean
After years of close examination of data from New Horizons, scientists think they have spotted evidence of recently erupted ice lava, a sign that Pluto is home to cryovolcanoes that were active in the immediate geologic past.
“We tried to find some other way to explain it, but we just really couldn’t,” said Kelsi Singer, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and an author of the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
If the team is correct, the implications are significant. Any erupting volcano requires a molten fuel source. If these ice lava deposits are young, then the underworld just below this spot on Pluto’s icy shell was, at least to some degree, hot and liquid very recently. And such a finding gives credence to the hypothesis that present-day Pluto is an ocean world, however improbable that may seem for a tiny, icy orb so far from the sun.
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