Pluto’s mountains are snowcapped but not similar to Earth’s
The scientists had earlier determined that the snow on the mountains of Pluto consists of frozen methane, with traces of gas being present in the atmosphere of Pluto, similar to water vapour on Earth.
An international team led by CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) scientists have found that the snowcaps on the mountains of Pluto are very much different from the snowcaps on the mountains of Earth.
The discovery by the team has been made while conducting an exploration of the New Horizon space probe which was held in earlier 2015. It had discovered the spectacular snowcapped mountains on planet Pluto which seemed very much similar to Earth. This form of the landscape was never observed elsewhere in the solar system.
How the team discovered the difference between the snowcapped mountains of Pluto and Earth?
The team had earlier determined that the snow on the mountains of Pluto consists of frozen methane, with traces of gas being present in the atmosphere of Pluto, similar to water vapour on Earth.
In order to understand how the same landscape can be produced in very different conditions, the team decided to use a climate model of the dwarf planet. It is then revealed that due to its particular dynamics, the atmosphere of Pluto is rich in gaseous methane at altitudes.
Resulting from this, it is only at the peaks of the mountains that are high enough to reach these enriched- zones, that the air on the planet contains sufficient methane for it to condense. While at lower altitudes, the air has too low of methane for the ice to form.
However, as the atmospheric temperatures on Earth decrease at altitude, on Pluto the temperature heat up at altitude as a result of the solar radiation.
Difference between Pluto’s and Earth’s Glaciers:
This study which was published in Nature Communications has also now explained why the thick glaciers consisting of Methane that are observed on Pluto bristle with spectacular craggy ridges, unlike flat glaciers on Earth which consist of water.