Beneath the icy surface of the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto, was found ammonia, a significant clue that underneath the surface might be a salty ocean with the vital ingredients to sustain life.
NASA’s New Horizons, the spacecraft that performed the first flyby in 2015, made detailed measurements and observations of Pluto and also collected data. The scientists discovered, after analyzing it, ammonia in some areas of the planet. It has been shown that the compound likely suffered some tectonic activity.
The places all over the dwarf planet where ammonia has been found indicate that it erupted out of cryovolcanic vents, a clue that there are icy volcanoes on Pluto that spew out sub-zero liquid water and gases like ammonia and methane. Pluto has a frigid surface temperature, but the compound of nitrogen and hydrogen acts as an antifreeze, it lowers the freezing water by up to 100 degrees Celsius and allows the water to remain in liquid form.
Can Pluto sustain life?
Now, the theories that sustain that there are liquid oceans beneath the little Pluto’s frozen surface are more believable and the researchers say that the dwarf planet has some conditions favorable for sustaining life and, possible, for the evolution of life.
There will be more of research and discoveries to make until finding out if life can really exist there or be sustained, but according to Dale Crukshank of the NASA Ames Research Center, on an interview for Science News, “It means there are lots of surprises waiting to be uncovered in that part of the Solar System”. Also he said that “This was a huge surprise to all of us about Pluto”. Well, not only for all of you NASA scientists, for sure.
The scientists’ findings were published in the journal Science Advances.