Jan 11, 2016

Pluto image reveals strange slug-like object

Posted by in category: space

An exposed rock on the dimpled, icy plain recalls a giant slug. The outcropping or lone chunk of debris lies along a demarcation line between different portions of the plain. The line resembles the trail of slime left behind by a slug or snail on the move.

But the line isn’t slime; it marks a unique but subtle pattern on the plain. Zoom out and viewers will see Sputnik Planum divided by a series of lines. The icy plain looks like a collection of cells or tectonic plates.

Researchers say the differentiation is created by a deep-lying heat source. As large regions are gradually warmed, they bulge very slightly before cooling and sinking back. The slow warming and cooling routine creates a cell-like convection pattern.

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