Pluto Has Widespread Water Ice, It's More Than You Thought
Pluto's surface contains greater amounts of water ice than previously thought. The new data gathered with NASA's New Horizons spacecraft enabled NASA researchers to pinpoint the water ice abundant areas on Pluto, according to a news release.
The artificial, colored image was created based on observations made by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, which highlights the spectral features of abundant water ice on the planet's surface. These LEISA observations were carried out July 14, 2015 at a range of 67,000 miles (108,000 kilometers).
Water ice makes up Pluto's crustal "bedrock," which is more like a canvas, where volatile ices paint their changing patterns. The New Horizon data maps Pluto's water ice bedrock and LEISA shows a pure water ice spectrum. This imaging technique creates more of a map, where rich water ice and depleted methane areas are quite visible.
The images/map indicates that water ice is more wide spread across Pluto's surface than previously thought, which is a remarkable findings for researchers. There are no signs of water ice in the Sputnik Planum region, which is also known as Pluto's 'heart.' The Lowell Regio area (far north on the encounter hemisphere) does not indicate any signs of water ice as well. In these areas, Pluto's bedrocks are most likely covered in layers of other ices like methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen.
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