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NASA Scientists: "Pluto Flybys Point to Existence of Life below Its Surface"

Pluto has been a mystery for scientists from last few decades. The spacecraft that passed by the Pluto last year, exposed many wonders about it. Early studies about the observations that have collected by this aircraft, suggested of its difficult chemistry and even some form of pre-biological practices below Pluto’s surface. Complex layers of organic mist, water ice mountains from some strange geologic method and possible organics on the surface and a liquid water ocean underneath. All these specifications hints towards a world, of much more vitality than the scientists have supposed.

Michael Summers, a planetary scientist in the New Horizons team who specializes in the structure and evolution of planetary atmospheres, says: “The connection with astrobiology is immediate — it’s right there in front of your face. You see organic materials, water and energy”.

It was more than a surprise for scientists, when they found haze on Pluto. At first, looking at the images of Pluto, Summers was reminded of a world he has studied for decades while working at George Mason University.

Summers has also co-authored two research papers on the topics, “The Photochemistry of Pluto’s Atmosphere as Illuminated by New Horizons,” and “Constraints on the Microphysics of Pluto’s Photochemical Haze from New Horizons Observations” published in the journal Icarus in September.

Pluto’s atmosphere is much more different than Saturn’s largest moon the titans, with haze reaching out at least 200 kilometers above the surface, about ten times higher than scientists had supposed. But above 30 km Pluto shows a similar irony to Titan with condensation happening in a region that’s too warm in temperature for haze particles to occur.

There is same oddity in the highest reaches of Titan’s atmosphere at about 500 to 600 kilometers above the surface observed by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Through further observations, scientists resolute that the condensation is partially the result of Titan’s photochemistry.
Another surprise from the New Horizons mission was finding haze on Pluto at far higher altitudes than scientists expected. (NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Summers said: “This haze formation is initiated in the ionosphere, where there are electrically charged particles (electrons and ions). The electrons attach to the hydrocarbons and make them stick together. They become very stable, and as they fall through the atmosphere they grow by other particles sticking to them. The bigger they are, the faster they fall. On Titan, as you go down in the atmosphere the haze particles get more numerous and much larger than on Pluto”

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