On Pluto found dunes of methane ice
Scientists have found evidence of the existence on Pluto dunes of frozen methane.
According to the study, the results of which were published in the journal Science, the geography of this distant dwarf planet more diverse than previously thought.
Previously it was assumed that Pluto’s atmosphere is too sparse and does not possess the qualities that are inherent in the atmosphere of our planet — for example, can’t form dunes and dunes.
The discovery was made after analysis of the photographs taken by the NASA spacecraft “New horizons”, flown near Pluto in July 2015.
The space probe was flying to the planet for almost 10 years, having flown past Pluto at speeds of nearly 60 thousand km/h.
In their study, the researchers told how he studied photos of the Plain of the Satellite, partly covered with something resembling dunes. In the neighborhood there stretched a chain of icy mountains with a height of about 5 km.
The researchers came to the conclusion that the dunes are from each other at a distance of 400-1000 m and are composed of frozen methane ice, the size of which the diameter is about 200-300 micrometers.
This roughly corresponds to the size of the usual sand grains.
The project was led by Matt Telfer, a physical geographer from the University of Plymouth.
“We can’t consider every grain of sand, but can identify dunes and their basic physical characteristics, as well as the density of the atmosphere in which they were formed”, — he told in interview Bi-bi-si.
“We can also measure some key indicators, for example, the distance of dunes from each other, as well as the approximate speed of the winds that form them. We can then input this data into a physical model, based on which you can guess the approximate weight of such grains”, — he explained.
For the formation of dunes need the atmosphere of this density, which will allow the winds to carry the material, as well as the necessary supply of dry particles and the mechanism by which particles will move away from the surface.