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PopWrapped | Current Events

Pluto's Latest Mystery: Floating Hills On The Surface

Christa Tintelnot | PopWrapped Author

Christa Tintelnot

Updated 02/8/2016 5:54pm
Pluto's Latest Mystery: Floating Hills On The Surface | Pluto
Media Courtesy of NASA

There are many mysteries of space, and the source of these mysteries is often so far away that we don’t have a lot of hope to solve them. One of the newest mysteries from the Great Unknown are the floating hills that scientists have discovered over the surface of Pluto.

Pluto has glaciers in the area known as the Sputnik Planum, which are made of nitrogen ice, and they seem to carry smaller, isolated hills. Scientists estimate that these hills are at least a mile across, but may be several miles.

Researchers who have studied these hills believe that they are mini versions of the glaciers in the Sputnik Planum, yet they seem to float through the air.

Water is less dense than nitrogen ice, so scientists believe that the hills are floating on a sea of nitrogen, which is frozen, and they tend to move slowly over time, similar to icebergs here on Earth. It is likely that they are simply fragments of glaciers that are already there, and they are being shuttled away by the nitrogen.

Thus far, researchers have only been able to see these structures in images, but have noticed that some areas are more concentrated than others. For example, there is a large accumulation of the hills, more than 37 by 22 miles in area, that appear near the area of the planet known as Challenger Colles. It is possible, due to the large amount of hills in this area, that they are becoming “beached,” as the ice is shallow.

When looking at the photos of these structures, it is very easy to see the gathering of the hills, as well as see where other floating hills are located. NASA has released these photos to the public this week.

What do you think, PopWrappers? Floating hills on the surface or Pluto or something else?

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