Pluto’s Frozen Lake Hints at a Warmer Past
Hockey fans take note: future visitors to Pluto may want to bring along their sticks and skates—the distant planet may harbor some pristine ice in the form of frozen ponds and lakes! (NASA might have to work on a lightweight, collapsible Zamboni first though.)
This image shows what appears to be a frozen “alpine” lake of liquid nitrogen located in a mountain range north of Sputnik Planum (i.e., Pluto’s “heart”). Captured by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) instrument on July 14, 2015, the image shows details as small as about 430 feet (130 m). At its widest point the lake is about 20 miles (30 km) across. (Source)
It’s thought that Pluto may once have been able to support flowing liquids on its surface, billions of years in the past when its atmosphere was thicker.
“In addition to this possible former lake, we also see evidence of channels that may also have carried liquids in Pluto’s past,” said New Horizons PI Alan Stern.
See this and more images and news from the New Horizons mission here.