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Seven Surprising Facts about Pluto

Antonia R.Antonia R.

After the New Horizons spacecraft reached the farthest planet in our solar system, some of the facts surrounding Pluto took even scientists that had been observing it for years by surprise.

1. Pluto is loaded with icy mountains - from the very 1st photograph taken by the spacecraft, several icy mountains were clearly visible, some with peaks reaching altitudes of about 9840 ft (3000 m).

One of the mountains was named Norgay Montes in honor of Tenzing Norgay - one of the first people to climb Everest. The mountain is located in the bottom part of a region, which when viewed from afar looks like a heart.

Considering the fact that the mountains are icy, it is postulated that the temperature on Pluto's surface is around -380°F (-230 °C).

2. An entirely unique planet - from observations from Earth, scientists had assumed that Pluto looked similar to Triton, one of Neptune's satellites. But when New Horizons flew by the surface of Pluto, it became evident that its geology was completely different from what was initially thought.

planet Pluto

3. Pluto is not a dwarf planet - when Pluto was 1st discovered in 1930 most scientists hesitated to call it a planet because they believed its dimensions were too small to be deserving of the term.

Yet the latest images from the spacecraft reveal that its diameter is larger than was estimated and that Pluto deserves the status of planet.

4. There are less craters than expected - Pluto's surface was thought to be riddled with craters but this turned out to be a completely false proposition. According to scientists, this means that the planet formed later than their estimates.

5. There may be an ocean underneath the surface - the type of photographed craters remind of Earthly volcanoes, which look the way they do because of geological activity.

This leads scientists to theorize that similar processes may have been occurring on Pluto, shaping its surface, with this same surface possibly hiding an entire ocean underneath.

6. Snowfall may be present - it is speculated that the region which looks like a heart consists of nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, which in turn cause snowfall.

7. Pluto is reddish colored - the photos by New Horizons revealed that Pluto is of a reddish-brown color and not grey or blue as was thought for years.