April 15, 2014 - In July 2015, we get our first close look at the dwarf planet Pluto
and its moon, Charon, a fact that has scientists hypothesizing more than ever about what we might see there.
Astronomy leaders vote to take away Pluto's planetary status, leaving the solar system with eight celestial bodies.
One of the latest ideas put forward is that perhaps the collision that likely formed Pluto
and Charon heated the interior of Pluto
enough to give it an internal liquid water ocean, which also gave the small world a short-lived plate tectonics system, like that of Earth.
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“We predict that when New Horizons gets there it will see evidence of ancient tectonism,” said Brown University's Amy Barr, coauthor of a new paper with Geoffrey Collins
in the latest issue of the journal Icarus. By "ancient," Barr
means sometime way back during the first billion years of the solar system's history.
Barr and Collins modeled the Pluto-Charon system based on the idea that the initial collision of the two bodies would have generated enough heat to melt the interior of Pluto
that would have survived for quite a while under an icy crust.