Newly-discovered ice volcanoes at Pluto hints towards possibility of life? ￼
Pluto’s ice volcanoes have been discovered in images acquired by NASA’s New Horizons probe. In July 2015, the spacecraft flew by Pluto and its moons, and the information it obtained at the time is now rewriting practically everything astronomers know about Pluto. It is pertinent to mention that when the International Astronomical Union created a new definition for planets in 2006, Pluto didn’t meet the criterion.
A recent photo analysis revealed a rough patch on Pluto that is unlike anything else on the small world or in the present cosmic vicinity, “We discovered a field of very massive icy volcanoes that look nothing like anything else we’ve seen in the solar system,” said Kelsi Singer, senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of the study.
It is located southwest of the Sputnik Planitia ice sheet, which covers a 621-mile-long (1,000-kilometer-long) ancient impact basin. It mostly comprises lumpy water ice and is covered in volcanic domes. Wright Mons and Piccard Mons are two of the largest.
Possibility of life:
The discoveries, when combined with the theory that Pluto’s interior is warmer than previously thought, pose intriguing issues concerning the dwarf planet’s habitability, “Any organism trying to thrive there still has a lot of obstacles,” Singer said. “They’d still require a steady supply of nutrients, and if the volcanism is episodic, the heat and water supply is erratic, that can be difficult for species as well.”