Pluto's Heart: Like a Cosmic 'Lava Lamp'

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Pluto's Heart: Like a Cosmic 'Lava Lamp'
Release Date: June 1, 2016
Keywords: MVIC, Pluto, Ralph
Like a cosmic lava lamp, a large section of Pluto's icy surface is being constantly renewed by a process called convection that replaces older surface ices with fresher material.

Scientists from NASA's New Horizons mission used state-of-the-art computer simulations to show that the surface of Pluto's informally named Sputnik Planum is covered with churning ice "cells" that are geologically young and turning over due to a process called convection. The scene above, which is about 250 miles (400 kilometers) across, uses data from the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), gathered July 14, 2015.
Their findings are published in the June 2, 2016, issue of the journal Nature.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
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