Astonishing methane dunes are present on the Pluto’s surface, and we were unaware about it. An international research team on Thursday conveyed the fact that the Pluto is covered with surprising dunes of methane ice. The exciting part of the methane dunes existence is that they are formed instead of the presence of dwarf Pluto’s fragile atmospheric layer. In comparison with the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, the Pluto’s atmosphere has got a lower surface pressure. It is almost one lakh times lower than that of the surface pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere. This lower surface pressure of the Pluto’s atmosphere enables the solid methane grains to mobilize in the atmosphere and become airborne.
Mild winds blow across the Pluto’s surface at a speed of about nineteen to twenty-five miles which corresponds to approximately thirty to forty kilometers per hour. These gentle winds give rise to the ripples at the border of an ice plain and the mountain range.
The report marks its presence in the journal Science. The Science journal reports, “The likely source of the dune grains is methane ice blown from nearby mountains. Although nitrogen ice cannot be ruled out.”
Jani Radebaugh says, “When we first saw the New Horizons images, we thought instantly that these were dunes, but it was astonishing because we know there is not much of an atmosphere.” Jani Radebaughis, the co-author of the study and an associate professor of the geological sciences department at the Brigham Young University.
Besides Earth, the other cosmic bodies possessing dunes are Mars and Venus. In addition to these two planets, Saturn’s moon named Titan and the comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko also marks the presence of dunes.
Scientists strongly believe that the undisturbed dunes were likely formed within the last five lakh years. According to Eric Parteli, such dunes formation on the Earth requires sand and stronger winds. Eric Parteli is the lecturer under the Department of Computational Geosciences at the University of Cologne.