It's been a rough couple of decades for Pluto. After over a decade of discussion about whether or not it should be considered a planet, the big ball of ice and rock was officially demoted in 2006, and debate has raged over its status ever since. Despite its new, somewhat less prestigious classification as a dwarf planet, NASA is still mighty interested in what Pluto might be hiding. Now, NASA researchers are suggesting that a vast ocean might be tucked away under Pluto's icy crust and, in a rare move, they're even suggesting that Pluto may support life deep below its surface.
The key factor in Pluto's potential to support liquid water beneath its surface, and thereby life, is the existence of its moons. As NASA explains, recent research has revealed that icy worlds that are orbited by moons may benefit from what is known as tidal heating. Put simply, the gravitational pull of a moon on a planet (or dwarf planet) can produce enough frictional energy deep within its icy body to generate heat and sustain a sub-surface ocean.
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NASA raises possibility of life on Pluto, says the dwarf planet may be hiding a vast ocean originally appeared on BGR.com on Mon, 4 Dec 2017 at 11:38:42 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.