Pluto's famous heart powers icy winds on the dwarf planet

Jan 27, 2020
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From: Pluto's famous heart powers icy winds on the dwarf planet

"If you remove Sputnik Planitia — if you remove the heart of Pluto — you won't have the same circulation."

From - Pluto's Beating Heart Regulates the Atmospheric Circulation: Results From High-Resolution and Multiyear Numerical Climate Simulations by T. Bertrand, F. Forget, O. White, B. Schmitt, et al

"Runaway albedo and volatile variations and differential condensation and sublimation have been suggested to explain these features (Earle et al., 2018; Moore et al., 2018; White et al., 2017), but the role of atmospheric circulation may be crucial and remains to be explored. Besides, the observations of wind streaks and eolian linear dunes on Pluto's surface (Stern et al., 2015; Telfer et al., 2018) are indications that Pluto's atmospheric dynamics can impact the surface geology."

After reading both articles it becomes quite clear that Pluto's heart, observable in visible light as a clearly seen heart shaped surface icon, clearly acts as a regulator in Pluto's atmospheric circulation, small as it is by Earth standards, and the clearly delineated wind streaks and linear dunes are evidence of these atmospheric activities.

Before the New Horizons Mission, Pluto was merely a collection of pixels at the very edge of our solar system where it and its moon, Charon, orbited around a central point. Now, following New Horizon's flyby, Pluto is seen as an incredibly dynamic dwarf planet with a tenuous atmosphere, winds, dunes and a heart controlling it all. Amazing.
 

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