Despite being located billions of kilometers away from its host star, the dwarf world formally known as a planet may harbor and interesting secret beneath it’s icy crust.
Scientists suspect Pluto holds a rocky core spiked with radioactive materials that are slowly breaking down, releasing enough heat in the process to melt ice and keep it liquid. The temperature on Pluto’s surface is about -375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Considering Pluto’s size and composition, just 100 parts per billion of radioactive potassium would be enough to maintain an ocean 60 to 105 miles in depth 120 miles beneath the surface, says planetary scientist Guillaume Robuchon, with the University of California at Santa Cruz. (Discovery News)
While scientists have yet to prove whether Pluto has an ocean, settlers brave enough to establish homes upon this Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) would probably not be interested in digging/melting through its crust in order to find out first hand for themselves.
Either way this does make Pluto a bit more interesting than its KBO friends, and could help bring some much needed attention to the dwarf world (who is usually overshadowed by other planets closer to the Sun).
Image Credit: European Southern Observatory / L. Calçada