Diferent theories appeared about the physichal presence of ice on Pluto ( thought to be constucted of two lobes ) which has sparked the interest of researchers ever since NASA’s New Horizons discovered it back in 2015. One of the two lobes, the western one, has been subjected to more scientific proofs and claims due to its mysterious formation and the types of ice it holds
The lobe was given interesting name Sputnik Planitia informally, and it is a deep basin containing carbon monoxide, methane and frozen nitrogen. The lobe appears to be opposite to the dwarf planet’s tidally locked moon and diferent theories have been given in regard to its formation.
Pluto’s Ice Formation
What all of the theories have in common is the idea that the formation is an impact basin, which was created while a smaller body stroke Pluto with extraordinarily high speed. A new research conducted at the University of Maryland, however, suggests that the ice was formed early in Pluto’s history, which would place its attributes as evolutionary consequences.
The interesting research was published, Dec. 1, in the journal Nature, suggesting that the ice cap formed early, and not due to an impact.
Pluto’s Early Formation And Charon
The researcher analyzed the temperatures, discovering that the 30 degrees north and south latitudes were the coldest places on Pluto ,when averaged over its 248-year orbit. According to this study, these spots were way colder than the poles, which could mean that ice formed as part of a natural process around these latitudes.
This discovery places the icy center of Sputnik Planitia, located at 25 degree north altitude, as a natural formation instead of a occurrence due to an impact with an external object.
This new theory proposing weather instead of impact as a cause of lobe formation places the shift of Pluto’s center of mass at around the same time that Charon’s gravitational force slowed the dwarf planet’s rotation. When this happened, Pluto had equal chances of facing Charon or as far away from it as possible, as a result of several million years of progressively becoming tidally locked.