Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .


Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















OUTER PLANETS
Pluto's 'Hulk-like' Moon Charon: A Possible Ancient Ocean?
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2016


A close-up of the canyons on Charon, Pluto's big moon, taken by New Horizons during its close approach to the Pluto system last July. Multiple views taken by New Horizons as it passed by Charon allow stereo measurements of topography, shown in the color-coded version of the image. The scale bar indicates relative elevation. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI. Full size image

Pluto's largest moon may have gotten too big for its own skin.

Images from NASA's New Horizons mission suggest that Pluto's moon Charon once had a subsurface ocean that has long since frozen and expanded, pushing outward and causing the moon's surface to stretch and fracture on a massive scale.

The side of Pluto's largest moon viewed by NASA's passing New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015 is characterized by a system of "pull apart" tectonic faults, which are expressed as ridges, scarps and valleys-the latter sometimes reaching more than 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) deep.

Charon's tectonic landscape shows that, somehow, the moon expanded in its past, and - like Bruce Banner tearing his shirt as he becomes the Incredible Hulk - Charon's surface fractured as it stretched.

The outer layer of Charon is primarily water ice. This layer was kept warm when Charon was young by heat provided by the decay of radioactive elements, as well as Charon's own internal heat of formation. Scientists say Charon could have been warm enough to cause the water ice to melt deep down, creating a subsurface ocean.

But as Charon cooled over time, this ocean would have frozen and expanded (as happens when water freezes), lifting the outermost layers of the moon and producing the massive chasms we see today. The top portion of this image shows part of the feature informally named Serenity Chasma, part of a vast equatorial belt of chasms on Charon.

In fact, this system of chasms is one of the longest seen anywhere in the solar system, running at least 1,100 miles (about 1,800 kilometers) long and reaching 4.5 miles (7.5 kilometers) deep. By comparison, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 kilometers) long and just over a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep.

The lower portion of the image shows color-coded topography of the same scene. Measurements of the shape of this feature tell scientists that Charon's water ice layer may have been at least partially liquid in its early history, and has since refrozen.

This image was obtained by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons. North is up; illumination is from the top-left of the image. The image resolution is about 1,290 feet (394 meters) per pixel. The image measures 240 miles (386 kilometers) long and 110 miles (175 kilometers) wide.

It was obtained at a range of approximately 48,900 miles (78,700 kilometers) from Charon, about an hour and 40 minutes before New Horizons' closest approach to Charon on July 14, 2015.

.


Related Links
New Horizons
The million outer planets of a star called Sol






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
OUTER PLANETS
Putting Pluto's Geology on the Map
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 12, 2016
How to make sense of Pluto's surprising geological complexity? To help understand the diversity of terrain and to piece together how Pluto's surface has formed and evolved over time, mission scientists construct geological maps like the one shown above. This map covers a portion of Pluto's surface that measures 1,290 miles (2,070 kilometers) from top to bottom, and includes the vast nitrog ... read more


OUTER PLANETS
NASA chooses ASU to design and operate special satellite

Chinese scientists invent leak detection system for moon exploration

Aldrin recounts successes and challenges of historic space journey

Edgar Mitchell, astronaut who walked on Moon, dead at 85

OUTER PLANETS
Somewhere between Earth and Mars Science Fiction Became Science Fact

Becoming a Martian

Site of Martian lakes linked to ancient habitable environment

Opportunity climbing steeper slopes to reach science targets

OUTER PLANETS
Flowering Zinnias set stage for deep-space food crop research

Engineer Makes Sure Commercial Crew Craft Will Make Smooth Landing

Visions of the future unleashed at TED

Practical Advice for Aspiring Space Explorers

OUTER PLANETS
Staying Alive on Tiangong 2

China Conducts Final Tests on Most Powerful Homegrown Rocket

Last Launch for Long March 2F/G

China aims for the Moon with new rockets

OUTER PLANETS
Black Mold Found in Cargo Prepared for ISS, Resupply Mission Delayed

Putting the Public in the Shoes of Space Station Science

Russians spacewalk to retrieve biological samples

Russia to Deliver Three Advanced Spacesuits to ISS in 2016

OUTER PLANETS
JAXA Launches X-ray Astronomy Satellite

ULA Launches NROL-45 Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office

SES-9 Launch Targeting Late February

Spaceflight Awarded First GSA Schedule Contract for Satellite Launch Services

OUTER PLANETS
Volcanoes Light Up Atmospheres of Small Exoplanets

Planet formation around binary star

First detection of super-earth atmosphere

Proto-planet has 2 masters

OUTER PLANETS
Scientists from MIPT gain insights into 'forbidden' chemistry

Scientists prove feasibility of 'printing' replacement tissue

US, Spain to Jointly Monitor Outer Space Traffic

Beyond diamonds and gems: The world's rarest minerals




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.