The Joys of Discoveries In A Young Solar System

In the vast and cold region of the solar system lies a dwarf Planet called “Pluto.” Some scientists have claimed it was dead, frozen out for many millions upon millions of years. New Horizons was a mission that was supposed to shed light on the origin of the solar system but instead has discovered some very young characteristics from the dwarf planet which complies a vast wealth of complexity within the old age framework.

Sand dunes are usually found in deserts where the wind blows the same around making some cool hills and more. Most wouldn’t think of sand dunes being present on Pluto. Even yours truly wouldn’t have thought of that even though it was predicted that young activity would be discovered on Pluto and beyond. That is exactly what New Horizons discovered as it flew by Pluto. 

Pluto's Sand Dunes

In Nature…“Dramatic dunes of methane sweep across part of Pluto. The discovery shows that the dwarf planet’s atmosphere, although thin, can still generate winds powerful enough to blow particles across the surface.”

“The dunes probably formed in the past 500,000 years — which means Pluto is a geologically active world.”

This presents a major problem for planetary evolutionists who believe in billions of years. Because if these winds have been active for many millions upon millions of years, wouldn’t the process eventually stop? Scientists believe Pluto’s atmosphere is escaping.

In Science, they speculate on an answer…“The methane grains could have been lofted into the atmosphere by the melting of surrounding nitrogen ice or blown down from nearby mountains. Understanding how dunes form under Pluto conditions will help with interpreting similar features found elsewhere in the solar system.”

 Young solar systems are active and old ones are not active because eventually, they lose energy and freeze out especially being so far away from the sun! It would be really cool if someday we could land a robot on Pluto (similar to that of Mars) which would be able to study the surface in much more detail. How many more surprises concerning Pluto’s activity would be discovered? My guess, quite a few more! 

Ceres as seen by DAWN

New Horizons is not done yet, on January 2019, the spacecraft is set to encounter another Kuiper belt object which again is believed to be composed largely of frozen volatiles like methane and water. My prediction, this objective will reveal some youthful surprise! Don’t forget that the spacecraft Dawn has flown down to it’s the closest point of Ceres and is now collecting data to be later transmitted back to Earth.  We are living in some of the most exciting times when it comes to space exploration! 

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