NASA scientists have been of the view that there’s quite a bit of water ice on Pluto’s surface but it turns out that the distant planet actually has more frozen water than scientists originally thought it did. A new map created data collected from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows that the planet is covered with a significant amount of ice.

This new map is more sensitive than the previous version that was created with data from the New Horizons’ flyby last year. That map only pointed out areas with an exceptionally large amount of ice because water ice is easily masked by frozen methane, and frozen methane is in abundance on Pluto.

NASA then used a new method to stitch together images sent by the New Horizons spacecraft, the images were captured using the spacecraft’s Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument from a distance of 67,000 miles.

Stitching together these infrared images allowed scientists to mute ice signatures created by other elements like nitrogen and methane so that the signature for water ice could be increased. The ended up finding out the Pluto’s surface has a lot more water ice than they originally believed.

It’s an exciting discovery even though scientists have known for some time now that Pluto has gigantic ice mountains and even cryovolcanoes, that’s ice volcanoes if you weren’t aware, the presence of water on a planet in any form is one of the basic requirements for finding a habitable planet.

Filed in General. Read more about NASA and Space.

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