The Pluto explorer spacecraft of NASA, New Horizons will help scientists and researchers at NASA to find evidence of an ocean on Pluto’s moon, Charon. The New Horizons is expected to flyby Pluto in July 2015. Scientists will be able to know whether or not the surface of Charon is cracked, which will be a great help to figure out if the moon had a sub-surface ocean in the past.
Scientists are eager to support their theory that Charon had liquid oceans in the past with further research. Cracks on the surface of the moon are very essential for the study as it has the potential of revealing details about these supposed ancient oceans.
“Our model predicts different fracture patterns on the surface of Charon depending on the thickness of its surface ice, the structure of the moon’s interior and how easily it deforms, and how its orbit evolved”, said Alyssa Rhoden of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Pluto has temperature close to 380 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Charon and Pluto are said to be tidally locked i.e. any ocean Charon might have had should be frozen by now.
According to NASA, moons of planets including Jupiter and Saturn are all involved in a gravitational tug-of-war.
Gravitational pull by their parent planet keeps Europa, Enceladus and even Charon in a slight elliptical orbit.
The tides raise daily tides on the surface of the moons. According to scientists these tidal movements could serve to keep the interiors warm and allow underground water to exist in liquid form, writes Nature World News.
“By comparing the actual New Horizons observations of Charon to the various predictions, we can see what fits best and discover if Charon could have had a subsurface ocean in its past, driven by high eccentricity.”
Rhoden said in a news release that the comparison between New Horizons observations of Charon and the various predictions will help in determining what fits best and discover the chances of Charon having a subsurface in its past.
Liquid water is a basic necessity for life and right mixture of chemical and energy source is essentially required by biological organisms for their survival.