Science/Tech

Water On Pluto: ‘Buried’ Ocean In Dwarf Planet Suggests Alien Life Is Possible

Alien could have been existing on previously mysterious place in the solar system. A new study suggests that Pluto potentially has existing oceans buried beneath its solid, icy surface, which could support extraterrestrial organisms. 

The findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, explores one area on the dwarf planet, known as Sputnik Planitia. The 1,000-kilometer-wide plain is made of nitrogen ice and is part of the planet’s famous "heart," Space.com reported Monday.

The researchers believed that Sputnik Planitia potentially hides the subsurface ocean. The area is aligned with Pluto's tidal axis, which takes the strongest gravitational pull from the planet's biggest moon, Charon. 

The team said that Pluto rolled into its current orientation due to an extra mass concentrated at and near the surface in the Sputnik Planitia region. That mass may come from the surface nitrogen ice and the water from the buried ocean. 

Scientists previously suggested that water appeared below Sputnik Planitia after a comet impact that penetrated the ground. However, the research teams long wondered how water could stay frozen for billions of years on Pluto. 

The new study used data from NASA's New Horizons probe to explore the properties of the planet. They hypothesized that an insulating layer of "gas hydrates" or ice-like solids composed of gases were trapped within "cages" of molecular water beneath Pluto's ice shell.

These gas hydrates then helped water stay under the solid surface ice. To further analyze Pluto’s potential water sources, the researchers created computer simulations.

They found that without the gas hydrates, the ocean froze solid hundreds of millions of years ago. But with the insulating layer, water stayed in its liquid state. 

Water & Aliens Somewhere In The Universe

Another interesting part of the latest study is that researchers suggest the same condition on Pluto may also appear on other planets outside the solar system. The surfaces of other frigid worlds may have been hiding liquid water even for billions of years. 

And that means, alien life may also exist somewhere in the universe, where solid ice could be found.  "This could mean there are more oceans in the universe than previously thought, making the existence of extraterrestrial life more plausible," Shunichi Kamata, lead author of the study from the Hokkaido University in Japan, said in a statement.

The researchers have yet to determine the type of gas is trapped in the water cages of Pluto. But Kamata and his believed methane is a good candidate as it has been confirmed that the planet’s atmosphere lacks the gas. 

pluto Researchers suggest oceans could be existing below Pluto's icy surface, which could support alien life. Pixabay

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