We have to admit that we are far from knowing everything about our Solar System. But that’s precisely what makes it so exciting to explore: the simple fact that we still need answers.
While some people are still debating if we should consider Pluto a planet or just a dwarf planet, scientists are now raising a new concern about the cosmic object from the edges of our Solar System: what’s exactly going on with the ‘beating heart’, the heart-shaped structure known as Tombaugh Regio?
The “beating heart” is controlling winds on Pluto
In new research led by Tanguy Bertrand and after analyzing data provided by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, scientists are explaining how the heart-shaped structure is in charge of the wind patterns on the dwarf planet. Therefore, the left part of the structure (aka Sputnik Planitia) causes nitrogen winds to blow. The atmosphere of Pluto has nitrogen as a majority, followed by methane and carbon monoxide.
The study also adds that the winds of Pluto are also carrying heat, grains of ice, and particles of haze. Bertrand points out the importance of NASA’s involvement in the exploring of Pluto:
Before New Horizons, everyone thought Pluto was going to be a netball – completely flat, almost no diversity,
But it’s completely different. It has a lot of different landscapes and we are trying to understand what’s going on there.
The same lead author of the study goes on by saying that the Sputnik Planitia (the left part of the Tombaugh Regio) may be as important for Pluto’s climate as the ocean is for the climate of our own planet.
The new study regarding the ‘beating heart’ of Pluto has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. It surely adds a new piece of the puzzle and makes us understand the edges of our Solar System better.