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Solving the Mystery of Pluto’s Giant Blades of Ice

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:58 pm

NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant knife blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery.

Now, scientists have turned up a fascinating explanation for this “bladed terrain”: the structures are made almost entirely of methane ice, and likely formed as a specific kind of erosion wore away their surfaces, leaving dramatic crests and sharp divides.

These jagged geological ridges are found at the highest altitudes on Pluto’s surface, near its equator, and can soar many hundreds of feet into the sky – as high as a New York City skyscraper. They are one of the most puzzling feature types on Pluto, and it now appears the blades are related to Pluto’s complex climate and geological history.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:00 pm

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Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto’s bladed terrain as seen from New Horizons during its July 2015 flyby.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:02 pm

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Credits: Wikimedia Commons/ESO

An example of the penitentes from the southern end of the Chajnantor plain in Chile. Though these ice formations only reach a few feet in height, while Pluto’s bladed terrain reaches hundreds of feet, they both have similar sharp ridges

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:04 pm



NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery.

Now, scientists have turned up a fascinating explanation for this “bladed terrain”: the structures are made almost entirely of methane ice, and likely formed as a specific kind of erosion wore away their surfaces, leaving dramatic crests and sharp divides.

 
Image

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Samanthaj
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Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:19 am

Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:00 pm

That's pretty amazing Owl - Thanks for sharing :hugs:
Trying to imagine that..i'd never have imagined they would be so tall.... possible of course but wow. :o) bet they are stunning.

Samj
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

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