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Pluto’s Mysteriously Cool Atmosphere Might Hold The Key To Fighting Global Warming

23 Nov 2017, 02:37 UTC
Pluto’s Mysteriously Cool Atmosphere Might Hold The Key To Fighting Global Warming NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
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When NASA’s New Horizons flew by Pluto in 2015, it didn’t just give us our greatest views of our Solar System’s largest world beyond Neptune, but discovered a scientific surprise: Pluto was much cooler than we had expected. While its temperature instruments recorded a mean temperature of 70 K (-333 °F), Pluto’s distance from the Sun, reflectivity, and atmospheric contents indicated that it should have been about 30 °C (54 °F) warmer than that. While many ideas have abounded as to the cause of this discrepancy, a team of researchers believe they’ve solved the mystery, and the culprit is Pluto’s atmospheric hazes. If this turns out to be correct, the cooling effect on Pluto might have applications here on Earth, with the potential to someday become a secret weapon in the fight against global warming.

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