Pluto has blue skies, they may not be as sunny as those on Earth but the sky on the dwarf planet is undoubtedly blue.
The discovery was made thanks to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during the historic flyby near the icy dwarf planet in July this year. The ‘new’ images of Pluto arrived to Earth last week and were released by NASA today.
According to NASA scientists, the particles in the atmosphere of Pluto are actually red and gray, the way the particles scatter blue light is was has left scientists baffled.
“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” Alan Stern, the principal scientist for New Horizons, said in a NASA release about the latest images.
The new images prove, without a doubt, that Pluto has surprisingly Earth-like features and that the dwarf planet is very similar to Earth.
As for life on Pluto, scientists have not denied or confirmed whether Pluto is warm enough for living organisms to survive.
“That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles,” said science team researcher Carly Howett.
“A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules.
“On Pluto they appear to be larger — but still relatively small — soot-like particles we call tholins.”
Even though scientists are extremely excited about the ‘blue skies’ on Pluto, the discovery of ice on the planet could certainly be more important as this incredible feature could point towards the presence of larger bodies of water, and where there is water there might be life…
The next step for researchers is to investigate from where the water is coming from.
“Large expanses of Pluto don’t show exposed water ice,” said science team member Jason Cook.
“Understanding why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places, is a challenge that we are digging into.”
Stern described Pluto as “alive” and said: “It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere [and] active geology.”
Astronomers are unsure why there is Ice on certain places on Pluto and not on others.
Professor Brian Cox said “The New Horizons probe showed you there may well be a subsurface ocean on Pluto, which means – if our understanding of life on Earth is even slightly correct – that you could have living things there,” he said.