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A salty sea could lurk beneath the heart of Pluto

Pluto

An ocean of salty water might lurk beneath Pluto’s Sputnik Planum, the left side of the dwarf planet’s famous heart, seen in this image from the New Horizons spacecraft.

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A salty ocean more than 100 kilometers deep might lurk beneath Pluto’s icy heart, a new study suggests. The buried reservoir could have helped tip the dwarf planet over at some point in its past, bringing the heart-shaped region in line with gravitational forces from Charon, Pluto’s largest moon.

A subsurface ocean isn’t a new idea; researchers proposed the possibility in March to explain the alignment between Charon and Sputnik Planum — the frozen impact basin that forms the left side of Pluto’s heart. Brandon Johnson, a planetary scientist at Brown University, and colleagues ran computer simulations to estimate the thickness of the putative sea. They report their results online September 19 in Geophysical Research Letters

Archaeology,, Computing

Digital rehab exposes Biblical roots of ancient Israeli scroll

By Bruce Bower 2:00pm, September 21, 2016
Virtual unwrapping reveals Biblical text on charred remains of ancient Israeli scroll.
Climate,, Oceans

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second-lowest low on record

By Thomas Sumner 5:18pm, September 19, 2016
A warm summer helped shrink sea ice in the Arctic Ocean to a statistical tie with 2007 for the second smallest sea ice minimum on record.
Animals,, Evolution

Hawaiian crows ace tool-user test

By Susan Milius 2:59pm, September 14, 2016
The almost-extinct Hawaiian crow joins the small, select flock of birds shown to use sticks tools routinely and well to wiggle bits of food out of crevices.
Planetary Science

Source of Charon’s red north pole is probably Pluto

By Christopher Crockett 1:00pm, September 14, 2016
The dark red pole on Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, is probably gas that escaped from Pluto and was then transformed by sunlight.
Planetary Science

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launches tonight for mission to grab asteroid sample

By Christopher Crockett 6:00am, September 8, 2016
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about to launch for a seven-year mission to study the asteroid Bennu and bring samples of the space rock back to Earth.
Paleontology,, Animals

Jurassic ichthyosaur dubbed ‘Storr Lochs Monster’ unveiled

By Meghan Rosen 9:26am, September 7, 2016
A rare, 170-year-old skeleton discovered in Scotland is one of the best-preserved ichthyosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic.
Planetary Science

Rosetta spots Philae lander on surface of comet 67P

By Christopher Crockett 12:33pm, September 6, 2016
Missing since November 2014, the Philae comet lander has been found lurking in the shadows on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Animals,, Anthropology

Bonobos rival chimps at the art of cracking oil palm nuts

By Bruce Bower 6:00am, September 5, 2016
Bonobos demonstrate their overlooked nut-cracking skills in an African sanctuary.
Chemistry,, Science & Society

FDA bans chemicals in antibacterial soaps

By Helen Thompson 4:49pm, September 2, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled against 19 antibacterial soap ingredients, citing insufficient evidence of bacteria-killing and safety problems.
Technology,, Astronomy

SpaceX rocket explodes on Florida launchpad

By Helen Thompson 3:33pm, September 1, 2016
SpaceX has lost a Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload in a standard prelaunch test.
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