A liquid ocean lying deep beneath Pluto’s frozen surface is the best explanation for features revealed by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, according to a new analysis. The idea that Pluto has a subsurface ocean is not new, but the study provides the most detailed investigation yet of its likely role in the evolution of key features such as the vast, low-lying plain known as Sputnik Planitia (formerly Sputnik Planum).
A mosaic strip just released by the New Horizons team now includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by the NASA probe. The mosaic affords scientists and the public the best opportunity to examine the fine details of the various types of terrain on Pluto, and determine the processes that formed and shaped them.
It seems that the more we see of Pluto, the more fascinating it gets. This latest image, from the heart of Pluto’s heart feature, shows the plains’ enigmatic cellular pattern as well as unusual clusters of small pits and troughs. Adding to the intrigue is that even at this resolution of 250 metres, no impact craters are seen, testifying to the region’s extreme geologic youth.