The distance of Pluto from the Sun, coupled with the planet’s extremely low temperatures (-222 Degrees Celsius) makes it impossible to imagine flowing water on its surface. Pluto’s moons are located in a similar frigid environment. Astonishingly, a new NASA funded study found evidence that suggests the presence of flowing water on one of the planet’s moons. If cracks are found on Pluto’s moon Charon then it indicates that the celestial body may have once housed an ocean under its icy surface.
“Our model predicts different fracture patterns on the surface of Charon depending on the thickness of its surface ice, the structure of the moon’s interior and how easily it deforms, and how its orbit evolved,” said Alyssa Rhoden of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in a press statement. “By comparing the actual New Horizons observations of Charon to the various predictions, we can see what fits best and discover if Charon could have had a subsurface ocean in its past, driven by high eccentricity.”
Scientists believe that Charon had eccentric or oval-shaped orbits that could have generated large tides, causing friction and surface fractures. They also said that this tidal deformation may have generated enough heat to maintain liquid water beneath the surface of the moon for some time.