Search
Seeker

What Bit a Chunk Out of Pluto's Ice?

NASA's New Horizons has found an icy oddity that highlights one of the key processes that is believed to shape this dwarf planet's surprisingly young surface.

March 11, 2016
2:55 PM EST
Compositional data from the New Horizons spacecraft's Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, shown in the right inset, indicate that the plateau uplands south of Piri Rupes are rich in methane ice (shown in false color as purple). Scientists speculate that sublimation of methane may be causing the plateau material to erode along the face of the cliffs, causing them to retreat south and leave the plains of Piri Planitia in their wake. | NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI