The mountains of Pluto are covered in snow, but not for...

The mountains of Pluto are covered in snow, but not for...
The mountains of Pluto are covered in snow, but not for...

On the left the region “Cthulhu” near Pluto’s equator, on the right the Alps on Earth. Two identical landscapes created by very different processes. Photo credit: NASA / Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University / Southwest Research Institute, Thomas Pesquet / ESA

In 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft discovered spectacular snow-capped mountains on Pluto that are strikingly similar to the mountains on Earth. Such a landscape had never been observed anywhere else in the solar system. However, when the atmospheric temperatures on our planet drop in altitude, they warm up on Pluto as a result of solar radiation at altitude.

Where does this ice cream come from? An international team led by CNRS scientists1 carried out this study. They first discovered that the “snow” on Pluto’s mountains actually consists of frozen methane, traces of this gas being present in Pluto’s atmosphere, just like water vapor on Earth. To understand how the same landscape can be created under such different conditions, they used a climate model for the dwarf planet that showed that Pluto’s atmosphere is rich in gaseous methane due to its special dynamics at high altitudes.

As a result, only at the tops of mountains high enough to reach this enriched zone does the air contain enough methane for it to condense. At lower altitudes, the air is too low in methane for ice to form. This research, published in Communication with naturecould also explain why the thick methane glaciers observed elsewhere on Pluto are dotted with spectacular, rugged ridges, as opposed to the flat glaciers on Earth, which are made of water.

On earth, snow condenses at height because the air expands when it rises and thus cools down (at a speed of 1 ° C approximately every 100 m). On Pluto, methane ice forms on the tops of the mountains when they are high enough to reach higher atmospheric levels that are hotter and richer in methane. Photo credit: Tanguy Bertrand et al.

Explanation of the glaciers of solid methane and nitrogen on Pluto


More information:
The equatorial mountains on Pluto are covered in methane frosts resulting from a unique atmospheric process. Communication with nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-020-18845-3

Quote: The mountains of Pluto are covered in snow, but not for the same reasons as on Earth (2020, October 13), accessed October 13, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-mountains-pluto -snowcapped-earth. html

This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair trade for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

These were the details of the news The mountains of Pluto are covered in snow, but not for... for this day. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information. To follow all our news, you can subscribe to the alerts system or to one of our different systems to provide you with all that is new.

It is also worth noting that the original news has been published and is available at de24.news and the editorial team at AlKhaleej Today has confirmed it and it has been modified, and it may have been completely transferred or quoted from it and you can read and follow this news from its main source.

PREV Greece records hottest ever winter, raising fears of summer fires
NEXT Italy foreign minister urges ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza