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A salty sea could lurk beneath the heart of 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

Neuroscience,, Health

Red blood cells sense low oxygen in the brain

By Laura Sanders 12:00pm, August 4, 2016
Red blood cells sense low oxygen and speed to the scene, a new study suggests.
Chemistry,, Technology,, Science & Society

X-rays reveal portrait hiding beneath Degas masterpiece

By Helen Thompson 9:00am, August 4, 2016
X-ray technique reveals an additional painting hiding behind Edgar Degas’ "Portrait of a Woman."

Smart mice have better odds of survival

By Helen Thompson 2:00pm, August 3, 2016
African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) may survive summer droughts by their wits, a study suggests.

Zika-carrying mosquitoes eluding control efforts in Miami

By Meghan Rosen 4:49pm, August 1, 2016
Florida adds 10 new cases of locally acquired Zika infection, prompting the CDC to issue travel warning for pregnant women. Mosquitoes in Miami may be resistant to insecticides.

Florida mosquitoes likely spreading Zika

By Meghan Rosen 3:14pm, July 29, 2016
Mosquitoes in Florida carrying the Zika virus are probably to blame for four recent cases of infection.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Revised risk, new mosquito threat, U.S. on the brink

By Meghan Rosen 5:12pm, July 28, 2016
First potential cases of locally spread Zika crop up in the continental United States, estimates of infection risk, antibodies that can fight the virus and a new mosquito species that may be able to carry Zika.
Plants,, Genetics

Why a parasitic vine can’t take a bite out of tomatoes

By Helen Thompson 2:00pm, July 28, 2016
Cultivated tomatoes fend off parasitic vines as they would microbes.
Planetary Science

Rosetta spacecraft has stopped listening for Philae lander

By Emily Conover 2:30pm, July 27, 2016
Rosetta is no longer listening for communications from the comet lander Philae.
Animals,, Conservation

Neonicotinoids are partial contraceptives for male honeybees

By Susan Milius 7:08pm, July 26, 2016
Male honeybees produce less living sperm if raised on pollen tainted with neonicotinoids, tests show.

Science News reporters answer your questions about aging

By Science News Staff 12:36pm, July 26, 2016
Three Science News reporters will answer questions related to a special issue on aging in a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, July 26, at 3 p.m. EDT.
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