New study suggests Pluto started out with a liquid ocean

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New research published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests Pluto started out with a subsurface ocean that has been slowly freezing over time.

The findings are based on an analysis of pictures of Pluto's surface taken by NASA's New Horizons mission. These show extensive ridges and troughs consistent with the planet expanding as its ocean froze.

Pluto is thought to possess a liquid ocean beneath a thin icy surface and a mantle of watery ice, according to the paper, which was published on June 22.

The study suggests the heat energy that allowed for a liquid ocean came from rocks colliding with and raining down on Pluto as the planet formed. Heat may also have been generated by radioactive elements in the rocks.

The research suggests other big Kuiper Belt objects — the largest of which are Pluto, Eric, Haumea and Makemake — may also have once held liquid oceans on their surfaces.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Extensive ridges and troughs recently identified on Pluto indicates the planet's subsurface ocean was once liquid
2. Pluto is thought to possess a thin icy surface surrounding a mantle of water ice, a subsurface ocean and an inner rocky core
3. Material raining down on Pluto imparts gravitational energy, which is released as heat
4. Other large Kuiper Belt objects may have had early oceans

VOICEOVER (in English):
"New research suggests Pluto started out with a subsurface ocean that has been slowly freezing over time."

"The findings are based on an analysis of pictures of Pluto's surface taken by NASA's New Horizons mission."

"These show extensive ridges and troughs consistent with the planet expanding as its ocean froze."

"Pluto is thought to possess a liquid ocean beneath a thin icy surface and a mantle of watery ice, according to the paper, which was published in the journal Nature Geoscience."

"The study suggests the heat energy that allowed for a liquid ocean came from rocks colliding with and raining down on Pluto as the planet formed."

"Heat may also have been generated by radioactive elements in the rocks."

"The research suggests other big Kuiper Belt objects — the largest of which are Pluto, Eric, Haumea and Makemake — may also have once held liquid oceans on their surfaces."

SOURCES: Nature Geoscience, Science Alert
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-020-0595-0
https://www.sciencealert.com/icy-pluto-may-have-had-a-hot-start-with-sloshy-liquid-oceans