Basic Astronomy

New horizon discovered mysterious floating hill in Pluto

5 February 2016: New Horizon space craft of NASA has taken images of frozen nitrogen glaciers on Pluto which carry many floating hills. This hills may be fragment of water ice.

The size of these hills are one to several kilometer wide.

These hills are informally named Sputnik Planum and located within Pluto's 'heart'. These hills are most probably miniature version of the larger mountains on Sputnik Planum's western border.

These hills are another example of Pluto's diverse and fascinating geological activity.

Hill in Pluto
(Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

The density of water ice is much less than nitrogen dominated ice. So, scientists believe that these water ice hills are floating on a sea of frozen nitrogen. These hills move just like iceberg in Earth's Arctic Ocean.

Most Probably these hills are fragments of rugged islands which are broken in past and the nitrogen glaciers carried them into Sputnik Planum.

Scientists found chains of the drifting hills along the flow paths of the glaciers.

After this hills enter the cellular terrain of central Sputnik Planum, they pushed to the edges of the cells due to the edges of the cells. These hills cluster in groups and spread over 20 kilometers region.










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