Mountains on Pluto are a winter wonderland of methane snow | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.



Science Ticker

A roundup of research
and breaking news

Science News Staff
Science Ticker

Mountains on Pluto are a winter wonderland of methane snow

Pluto and magnified images of mountains

LET IT SNOW  Methane deposits (false-color purple) closely match bright summits (center) seen by the New Horizons spacecraft, suggesting the peaks are capped with methane snow.

Sponsor Message

Over the ground lies a mantle of white — on Pluto. Snow-capped peaks on the dwarf planet dot an otherwise ruddy terrain. But these snowy summits appear to be composed of methane, not water, researchers report online March 3.

Mountain tops in Pluto’s Cthulhu Regio, a dark landscape abutting the planet’s famous heart, reflect more light than the surrounding area. The New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto on July 14, found that the bright regions correspond to surface deposits of methane. Mission scientists speculate that perhaps methane in the atmosphere on Pluto behaves like water in the air on Earth, building up on the ground as frost at the highest (and coldest) elevations.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More on Mission to Pluto

From the Nature Index Paid Content