Talk about an endless winter: Pluto has way more frozen water than scientists originally thought.
The dwarf planet is coated with a large amount of ice, according to a new map using previously collected data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.
This map is more sensitive than an earlier version that was created using data by New Horizons’ historic flyby in 2015. The previous map was at a disadvantage because water ice can be easily masked by frozen methane. So it only showed areas with an especially large amount of frozen water.
A new method, which involved NASA stitching together two infrared images captured by New Horizons’ Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, at a distance of about 67,000 miles, allowed scientists to mute ice signatures created by other elements, such as methane and nitrogen, and heighten the signature for water ice. What they discovered was a lot of frozen water blanketing little Pluto’s surface.
So what’s the big deal? Didn’t we already know Pluto was like an Elsa paradise? The planet has towering ice mountains and two potential cryovolcanoes — yes, that means ice volcanoes. Well, this new map shows water ice is more widespread across Pluto’s surface, which is an important discovery, according to NASA officials.
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SOURCE: CNN, Jareen Imam