Glaciers on other planets?

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015

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In light of Pluto’s newest photos from the New Horizons spacecraft mission, this Photo Friday showcases photos of the surprisingly snowy and mountainous geology of planetary bodies.

While not quite glacial, check out these photos of dwarf planet Pluto’s icy mountains and the snow-capped poles of Mars below.

Our understanding of the composition and processes of glaciers on Earth helps scientists understand glacial-like geology in space.

Pluto’s newfound mountain ranges are estimated to be as tall as the Rocky Mountains, at around 11,000 feet. The mountains are likely composed of water-ice “bedrock.” At 100 million years old, the mountains are relatively young, at least in comparison to the age of the 4.567 billion-year-old solar system. Meanwhile, the planet Mars has two permanent ice caps that scientists have long known about. Both poles are comprised of water-ice, like Pluto’s mountains, and are occasionally covered with thick, frozen carbon dioxide.

For more information about Mars’ polar ice caps, check out this past GlacierHub article. Or instead, switch your direction of sight and see Earth’s glaciers viewed from space here.

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