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The Ancient Solar System...

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10 Nov 2015, 11:41 UTC
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Volcanic activity on Pluto:A huge amount of news from DPS 2015 , mainly focusing on Pluto discoveries by the New Horizon's spacecraft, came out yesterday. NASA made it's own announcement (follow the title link). The big news were two probable cryovolcanoes, named  (unofficially) Piccard Mons and  Wright Mons. Above: A topographic map showing two possible cryovolcanic mountains on Pluto. Courtesy of NASA.That wasn't everything though: New Horizon's data has also revealed that the ages of different parts of Pluto's surface vary hugely, the atmosphere is smaller and colder than expected, it's small moons are wobbling around their orbits chaotically, and two of them are made of still smaller objects stuck together somehow.Above: An animation showing how Pluto's moons spin. Courtesy of NASA. On top of all that, some of Pluto's mountains might actually be floating on it's 'glacier ocean'.  How come such as small, cold, world has so much  activity going on? The answer might well be ammonia: Ammonia is a potent antifreeze, and could soften the water ice making up most of Pluto enough to allow convection to take place, according to a model presented at DPS 2015. Professor Jay Melosh lead the research with graduate student Alex Trowbridge. ...

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