New Horizons imagery reveals small, frozen lake on Pluto

New Horizons imagery reveals small, frozen lake on Pluto
Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft spied several features on Pluto that offer evidence of a time millions or billions of years ago when – thanks to much higher pressure in Pluto's atmosphere and warmer conditions on the surface – liquids might have flowed across and pooled on the surface of the distant world.

"In addition to this possible former lake, we also see evidence of channels that may also have carried liquids in Pluto's past," said Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado—principal investigator of New Horizons and lead author of the scientific paper.

This feature appears to be a frozen, former lake of liquid nitrogen, located in a mountain range just north of Pluto's informally named Sputnik Planum. Captured by the New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, the image shows details as small as about 430 feet (130 meters). At its widest point the possible lake appears to be about 20 miles (30 kilometers) across.


Explore further

Ancient Pluto may have had lakes and rivers of nitrogen

Provided by NASA
Citation: New Horizons imagery reveals small, frozen lake on Pluto (2016, March 28) retrieved 30 October 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2016-03-horizons-imagery-reveals-small-frozen.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
765 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments