UNITED STATES: Researchers have predicted that Charon, a moon at the far end of the Solar System, might have an ocean beneath its surface. This could be a game-changing discovery. Pluto was abandoned as a planet more than ten years ago, and Charon is one of its moons.
Analysis of data from the New Horizons spacecraft in 2015 has shown that there are geologically active objects in Charon instead of the lifeless frozen spheres that were previously thought to exist.
The Southwest Research Institute team looked at the causes of the belt of cracks and cryovolcanic flows that are present on Pluto’s big moon. They found that the gaps may have resulted from the emergence of beneath frozen seawater.
According to the new model, the internal ocean of the moon may have created deep, longitudinal depressions along its girth as it froze. It was less likely, nevertheless, to cause cryovolcanoes in its northern hemisphere to erupt with ice, water, and other substances.
A subterranean liquid ocean that finally froze is suggested by a combination of geological interpretations and thermal-orbital development theories for Charon. When an internal ocean freezes, it expands, causing significant strains in its frozen shell and increasing pressure in the water below.
According to Dr Alyssa Rhoden, the paper’s primary author, “We assumed this was the origin of Charon’s huge canyons and cryovolcanic flows.”
According to a study published in the journal Science Direct, thermal-orbital evolution models and geological interpretations suggest that Pluto’s big moon Charon once possessed an ammonia ocean that finally froze.
The researchers created a simulation of how the ice shell of Charon fractured as the ocean below it froze. Based on inquiries into the composition, they modelled vast oceans of water, ammonia, or a combination of the two.
The liquid can be forced through fractures to erupt onto the surface when cracks cut through the entire ice shell and tap the deep ocean. This pressure is caused by the expansion of the newly formed ice.
In contrast to the more than 60 miles or 100 km indicated, Charon’s ice shell was either less than 6 miles (10 km) thick when the flows occurred, or the surface was not in direct contact with the ocean during the eruptive process.
According to Rhoden, “If Charon’s ice shell had been thin enough to be entirely cracked, it would have implied significantly more ocean freezing than is suggested by the canyons found on Charon’s encounter hemisphere.”
According to researchers, ocean freezing also predicts a sequence of geologic activity in which strain-induced tectonism ends before ocean-sourced cryovolcanism. A more thorough examination of Charon’s geologic record could help decide if such a scenario is plausible.
Also Read: NASA Gives the Mars Mission Contract to Blue Origin