New findings suggest that Pluto might hold water underneath its surface. Scientists have identified traces of ammonia on the surface of the dwarf planet located at the fringe of our solar system. NASA announced that the fact that the element was detected on Pluto, it could mean that the planet might have an ocean hidden deep underneath its surface.
A reddish region on the planet implies that a merging of liquid water and ammonia regularly blasts to the surface through volcanic cracks. These phenomena are called cryovolcanoes and are versions of volcanoes that sprout water, ammonia, and methane rather than magma and ash.
Dr. Cristina Dalle Ore, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California said that ammonia was considered as the ‘holy grail’ of scientific discoveries in the space field. When it is discovered, it signals the presence of a habitat that is convenient for life. However, it doesn’t mean that life is actually present and not yet found, but it certainly flags an area which should be further examined, she added.
Water on Pluto Could Mean That Alien Life Exists On The Dwarf Planet
Dr. Dalle Ore and her team detected the ammonia in data images captured by NASA’s New Horizons space satellite in its flyby of the dwarf planet back in July 2015. Ammonia is a mixture of nitrogen and hydrogen, sustains numerous biological processes and warms the water. Thus, the presence of ammonia on Pluto might signal that alien communities could shelter liquid lakes or oceans. The researchers said that ammonia is a rather significant source of nitrogen in the solar system and has a critical role in planetary chemistry. Until the recent discovery of ammonia, the element has not been identified spectroscopically on Pluto.
The reddish discovered region is known as Virgil Fossae, and it was probably colored after regular bursts of liquid water and ammonia bursting through volcanic cracks. After ultraviolet and cosmic rays touch it, ammonia vaporizes into the atmosphere. Because it was possible to discover on Virgil Fossae, it implies that the cryovolcanic eruptions happened only a few million years ago.
Researchers have used combined assays, also geological simulations and thermal evolution prototypes to prove the presence of an underground ocean on Pluto. The probable vast amounts of liquid water have crucial significance in the search for alien life in the cosmos.