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Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the mi-go-beach dept.

Space 47

astroengine (1577233) writes "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. 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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Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 months ago | (#46743541)

But seriously. It's barely considered a planet and now people want to point out its faults? Leave Pluto alone!!!

Re:Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46743571)

This could result in a seismic shift in the way we think about Pluto.

Re:Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 7 months ago | (#46743779)

But what was the influence of social media on the build up to this shift?

Re:Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 7 months ago | (#46743963)

The shock and awe of the situation was overwhelming. Almost on the scale of a WMD.

Re:Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (3, Funny)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 7 months ago | (#46744835)

world of modified definition?

Re:Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 7 months ago | (#46743689)

We need to seriously hire that "Leave Britanny Alone" guy [youtube.com] to make another video for Pluto.

Re:Okay, so Pluto isn't perfect (5, Funny)

phrostie (121428) | about 7 months ago | (#46743837)

They are minor faults

Wormface does not approve of this. (0)

sconeu (64226) | about 7 months ago | (#46743585)

How will the Wormfaces set up their base on Pluto?

Re:Wormface does not approve of this. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 7 months ago | (#46743709)

I was thinking Emory and Oglethorpe from ATHF, [wikia.com] not Wormfaces...

Re:Wormface does not approve of this. (2)

sconeu (64226) | about 7 months ago | (#46744509)

Have Space Suit, Will Travel.

Re:Wormface does not approve of this. (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 6 months ago | (#46749689)

Have Space Suit, Will Travel.

Go, Heinlein!

It's a Planet (3, Informative)

The Cat (19816) | about 7 months ago | (#46743671)

It was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh. Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American.

Tombaugh sat in 30 degree temperatures with a wooden telescope (that he built himself at his own expense) laboriously taking pictures at long intervals so he could measure (by flipping photographic plates back and forth) if anything moved.

It wasn't until he was able to use a 13-inch astrograph that he found Pluto in 1930. This guy was a stone cold badass. Nobody has any right to deny him his discovery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's a Planet (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#46743799)

" Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American."

What about exoplanets? Surely many of those were discovered by americans.

Of course they are beyond the jurisdiction of the IAU

Re:It's a Planet (4, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 7 months ago | (#46744121)

He discovered the first Kuiper belt object.

You can think of him as an American Piazzi [wikipedia.org] , if you'd like.

Re:It's a Planet (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 7 months ago | (#46744617)

Care to offer a definition of "planet" that would include Pluto but rule out Eris/Sedna/Makemake/Haumea/Ceres/etc?

Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American.

American astronomer Michael Brown discovered Eris, Sedna, Makemake, and Haumea.

Nobody has any right to deny him his discovery.

Nobody has. He's still listed as the discoverer of Pluto. Just as Piazzi is still listed as the discoverer of Ceres, even though it too lost its early status as a "planet".

Re:It's a Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745905)

Care to offer a definition of "planet" that would include Pluto but rule out Eris/Sedna/Makemake/Haumea/Ceres/etc?

sure

planet - noun - one of mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, saturn, uranus, neptune, or pluto

pluto is a planet. qed

Re:It's a Planet (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46746209)

Care to offer a definition of "planet" that would include Pluto but rule out Eris/Sedna/Makemake/Haumea/Ceres/etc?

Why would we want to rule out Eris/Sedna/Makemake/Haumea/Ceres/etc?

I, for one, am not wedded to nine planets. Or eight. Or fourteen, for that matter....

Re:It's a Planet (1)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | about 6 months ago | (#46748007)

It's all somewhat arbitrary in any case.

It's all just a matter of what we choose to call things and how we choose to categorize things. Lumping things into categories based on similar characteristics is helpful for a number of reasons.

If you go back and look at the history of when and why Ceres (and Vista, and Pallas, etc.) was demoted from planetary status, you'll see all sorts of similarities. The continued discovery of Kupier bodies shows Pluto was part of a larger community, just like Ceres.

What folk mean when they say defining things such that you keep Pluto in and leave Ceres out is that they're looking for a consistent pattern of categorization and nomenclature which minimizes changes. It's simply easier to drop the ninth to to squeeze back in a fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.

These continued discoveries create the need for updating our categorizations because they highlight the problem of HAVING ALREADY demoted Ceres, Vista, Pallas, etc. It makes no sense to call these new things planets unless we also do this for the bodies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Re:It's a Planet (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46748113)

It's all somewhat arbitrary in any case.

Won't argue with that.

It's all just a matter of what we choose to call things and how we choose to categorize things. Lumping things into categories based on similar characteristics is helpful for a number of reasons.

And you're telling me this why? Why didn't you also explain that water was wet?

If you go back and look at the history of when and why Ceres (and Vista, and Pallas, etc.) was demoted from planetary status, you'll see all sorts of similarities. The continued discovery of Kupier bodies shows Pluto was part of a larger community, just like Ceres.

And, horror of horrors, when we discovered Neptune, we realized it was part of a larger community (of planets). Note that the Kuiper Belt is pretty much as arbitrary as the Asteroid Belt - they're both a region of space with stuff in them. Just like Jupiter's orbit (Jupiter, an indeterminate number of moons, Trojan asteroids, etc), or Earth's.

What folk mean when they say defining things such that you keep Pluto in and leave Ceres out is that they're looking for a consistent pattern of categorization and nomenclature which minimizes changes. It's simply easier to drop the ninth to to squeeze back in a fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.

And here I thought science was about discovering new things, not about minimizing change. My bad..

Re:It's a Planet (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 6 months ago | (#46752431)

I, for one, am not wedded to nine planets. Or eight. Or fourteen, for that matter....

Fair enough. My mistake. Most people who whine about Pluto in the terms you used want to go back to 9 planets, and only 9, because "tradition".

I'd prefer to create a, admittedly still arbitrary, broad definition of planet as "any natural object that is above [a certain size**], and is not a star or stellar remnant." So brown dwarves, but not white. The Moon is a planet, as is Titan and the Galilean moons. Pluto is a planet, but so is Charon. And Ceres - as well as hundreds, possibly thousands of KBO/Oort-objects. Plus exo-planets, free-flying planets, etc.

People could then create official and ad-hoc sub-categories of these "planets". "Major moons". "Major Planets/Dwarf Planets". "Exo-Planets". And, for the whiners, "The Traditional Planets", ie, the magic 9.

[** "a certain size". I don't really care what that size is, whatever is useful to astronomers/planetologists. Anything smaller would be an "asteroid" (including small moons), down to another arbitrary limit where they become "meteoroids" (rocks and rubble), down to yet another arbitrary limit where they become "dust".]

Re:It's a Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46748815)

As long as they apply their shoehorned definition consistently. Until Jupiter sufficiently "clears its neighborhood" around its orbit, it ain't a planet either. Neither is the Earth or Mars, for that matter. It is sad that so many people think this thing is "settled" when in fact it represents a pretty ugly face that shows that vocal minorities can bully just as effectively [bbc.co.uk] in science as outside it.

Re:It's a Planet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46745881)

Tombaugh sat in 30 degree temperatures with a wooden telescope (that he built himself at his own expense) ...

I was thinking to myself that that sounded quite pleasant until I remembered that American degrees aren't quite the same as everyone else's.

Re:It's a Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46746109)

fixed the wikipedia page its now properly listed as a dwarf planet

Re:It's a Planet (1)

gsslay (807818) | about 6 months ago | (#46746327)

Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American.

How is this in anyway relevant to whether it is a planet or not?

Pluto Rulz! (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 7 months ago | (#46743683)

Pluto Rulz! It's still the best planet we've never visited! I say forget Mars, the smart Real Estate investor will be seeking beach front property on Pluto!

I for one welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46743695)

our Palainian overlords.

Ancient Teutonic Knights... (1)

Morpeth (577066) | about 7 months ago | (#46743755)

... that's awesome!

The brain is a funny thing...

Then's it's a planet. (2, Informative)

sandbagger (654585) | about 7 months ago | (#46744151)

You hear me? A planet.

Pluto thumbing its nose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46746067)

That's OK. Pluto keeps thumbing its nose at the scientists. One thing not mentioned: Pluto has THREE moons (two recently discovered). The eggheads keep saying "dwarf planet", Pluto keeps saying "nyah, nyah, nyah!" as we discover more neat things about it.

Re:Pluto thumbing its nose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749303)

No it is not O.Ok. We scientists demand action. We demand when we want to say something controversial like our Inconvenient Truths, EVERYONE turns a head and then bows because you are not a Concerned Scientist if you do not bow to that of which we speak. So in conclusion, Pluto is not a planet or a dwarf planet but IS a microplanet which exhibits everything a planet would but since it is small (based on whatever arbitrary number I wanted to dig out of my dog's feces by counting bacteria with an electron microscope using an automated computer vision program) and then putting "km" at the end of that number, if it isn't larger than that number, it isn't a planet. I have a PhD in physics, so obviously I know weverything about The Universe. Amen.

Re:Pluto thumbing its nose... (1)

tomofumi (831434) | about 6 months ago | (#46754485)

Pluto has 5 moons now (latest one discovered in 2012): http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/pl... [nasa.gov]

Re:Then's it's a planet. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46746173)

You hear me? A planet.

You're entitled to your opinion, even if it's rather non-standard as to what does or doesn't constitute a planet. Personally, I don't think anything that doesn't have a) solid ground and b) an atmosphere to speak of should be considered a planet; as such, I recognize only two planets in the solar system, Venus and Earth. (Unfortunately astronomers keep on disagreeing with me on the matter.)

Now I'm joking, of course, but really, my definition is at least as good as yours.

What's more, what people like you fail to realize is that any definition of planet that encompasses Pluto will also encompass many, many other Kuiper belt objects, both discovered and (as of yet) undiscovered. How many planets do you want in your solar system? A hundred? A thousand? A hundred thousand?

Face it, while Pluto is fairly large, it IS a Kuiper belt object; it's not in a wholly different class the same way that the rocky planets (Mercury to Mars) and the gas giants (Jupiter to Neptune) are.

And before you ask, no, Pluto cannot be grandfathered in, either: this is science we're talking about, not politics. Astronomy isn't a trade talk where delegates engage in tit-for-tat, it's an attempt to have a professional debate and come up with a unified definition that makes scientific sense.

So, again - you're free to call everyone and their dog a planet if that's what floats your boat, but if you want to convince the scientific community, you'd better come up with some convincing argument. And it'd better be DAMN good, because the "what makes a planet" cake's been eaten years ago.

Re:Then's it's a planet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749233)

this is science we're talking about, not politics. Astronomy isn't a trade talk where delegates engage in tit-for-tat, it's an attempt to have a professional debate and come up with a unified definition that makes scientific sense.

However, the IAU 2006 definition of a planet came about exactly as a result of politics, and tit-for-tat trade talks. Then it was put to a vote and restricted to only those who could be present on the last day of a 10-day conference in Prague. That's why they ended up with the stupid definition they did. They only difference between a planet and a dwarf planet is that it has "cleared its neighborhood". Unfortunately, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune haven't cleared their neighborhoods either. It comes down to the "I can't tell you how to define pornography, but I know it when I see it" type of argument against Pluto, and that is not very good science.

"scientists hypothesizing"... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 7 months ago | (#46744235)

Seems a bit far fetched to me. It could also be where Jimmy Hoffa is buried...

Re:"scientists hypothesizing"... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 months ago | (#46744901)

Would that make him a Plutocrat?

Yes, and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46744479)

monkeys might fly out of my butt!

Re:Yes, and... (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 7 months ago | (#46745597)

That must be painful.

As a friend and family physician, I recommend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46751821)

...ointment for those crevasses. There's no need to live with the pain of faults in the, er, dark nether regions.

If charon was formed at the the formation ... (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 7 months ago | (#46745573)

... of the solar system 4 billion years ago and not more recently , then the chances of that water still being liquid without any further external heating - the energy from the sun at plutos orbit is so slight its irrelevant - I suspect are pretty damn close to zero.

Re:If charon was formed at the the formation ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46750251)

In other news... Pluto may not have Deep Seas and a Tectonic Fault

+4 Insightful wtf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46754075)

RTFA? - I suspect are pretty damn close to zero:

“Once you create an ocean on an icy body, it's hard to get rid of it,” said Barr. That's because as the ocean freezes, the remaining liquid portion gets enriched with salts and ammonia -- which serve as antifreeze.

Re:+4 Insightful wtf... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 6 months ago | (#46754455)

I don't know many antifreezes that work at -230C , do you?

Re:+4 Insightful wtf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46762995)

I don't know many antifreezes that work at -230C , do you?

Dude you don't know dick about the interior temperature of Pluto. The hypothetical ocean is belief the surface so your ref is moot.

Decaying radioactive elements inside Pluto would heat the interior of the dwarf planet, allowing the rock and ice to move around. At this point, the interior of Pluto is probably a rocky core surrounded by a shell of ice. If the radioactive elements are still decaying today, they could heat Pluto up enough that it has an interior liquid ocean, like Jupiter’s moon Europa.

http://www.universetoday.com/13875/what-is-pluto-made-up-of/

Find a good reference and don't bring up BS.

Re:+4 Insightful wtf... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 6 months ago | (#46764957)

Pal, any radioactivity inside pluto has long since decayed. Its a TINY world with no internal or external heat source. The chances of anything still being liquid inside are pretty much zero.

pluto may be made out of cheese (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46746043)

I predict that pluto may be made out of cheese.

Am i a scientist now ?

Mass relay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46749309)

Thank goodness---now we will be able to conclusively determine whether Charon is a mass relay or not.

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