By studying photos of the dark region in the equatorial part of Pluto, known as Cthulhu, scientists found significant reserves of methane snow covering the peaks of mountains and hills on a distant planet. The methane snow on Pluto, as Nature Communications writes, was not formed in the same way as the snow on Earth.
“The white caps we found at the tops of the equatorial mountains of Pluto didn’t come from the cooling of air currents that rush through the mountain slopes into the high atmosphere (so the mountains are covered by snow on Earth), but from the accumulation of large amounts of methane at a significant altitude. We’re talking about condensation of gas that has accumulated at the tops of the mountains,” say planets from NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Scientists have noted that the methane snow is a very exotic substance, which, however, quite a lot on the tops of the Pluto mountains. The fact that it is snow has been confirmed by computer simulations.
The methane snow on Pluto was detected by photos taken by the automatic interplanetary station New Horizons. Launched in early 2006, it did not reach Pluto until 2015. New Horizons flew 13,000 km from the surface of a dwarf planet and photographed Pluto in detail, transmitting to Earth an array of valuable data for researchers. Almost all the information about Pluto that humanity has, was obtained through the station New Horizons.