According to an article, published in the scientific journal Science, it seems that the dwarf planet Pluto has a different atmosphere from what was considered earlier.
Scientists have found an evidence of frozen methane dunes on the dwarf planet. While earlier it was believed that Pluto’s environment is too feeble to reciprocate any of the characterstics of the Earth’s atmosphere.
This evidence comes from the study of NASA’s New Horizon mission, that took close pictures of the Pluto in July, 2015.
In their close analysis, the researchers elucidated that while studying the images of a plain on the dwarf planet, named Sputnik Planitia, they found parts of the planet’s surface covered with fields of methane dunes. These dunes are found very close to the mountain range of water ice which are 5km in height.
In their conclusion, the researchers said that the metane dune are approximately .4 to 1 km apart from each other and constitutes particles of methane ice that are roughly 200-300 micrometers in size which is approximately the size of sand grains.
Dr. Matt Tefler, who is the lead authour of the research paper, said that although they can’t see the grains clearly, they can identify the methane dunes and their basic physical characteristics. Based on all these information, they can feed the data in a physical model and estimate the size of the grains.
According to the Scientists, in order to form dunes, the environment of Pluto needs to be dense enough to transport the dry particles, presence of wind transportation and also a process to lift the particles off the ground. All these features seemed completely absent on the dwarf planet.
But Dr. Matt Tefler and his fellow scientists deducde that it might be possible that the methane dunes found on the surface may be present in the region which has high wind speed of up to 10m/s that would be enough for the movement of particles.
The research team also estimates that there may be nitrogen present in the dunes along with methane. They also think that the mountain may contain a reserve of methane inside it.
The research team working on the photos are quite excited with the new Discovery on the dwarf planet. Dr. Tefler quoted that it is exciting to know that the world of the dwarf planet is still in the process of it’s formation.