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Large-scale cryovolcanic resurfacing on Pluto

Abstract : The New Horizons spacecraft returned images and compositional data showing that terrains on Pluto span a variety of ages, ranging from relatively ancient, heavily cratered areas to very young surfaces with few-to-no impact craters. One of the regions with very few impact craters is dominated by enormous rises with hummocky flanks. Similar features do not exist anywhere else in the imaged solar system. Here we analyze the geomorphology and composition of the features and conclude this region was resurfaced by cryovolcanic processes, of a type and scale so far unique to Pluto. Creation of this terrain requires multiple eruption sites and a large volume of material (>10 4 km 3) to form what we propose are multiple, several-km-high domes, some of which merge to form more complex planforms. The existence of these massive features suggests Pluto's interior structure and evolution allows for either enhanced retention of heat or more heat overall than was anticipated before New Horizons, which permitted mobilization of water-ice-rich materials late in Pluto's history.
Keywords : Pluto Cryovolcanism
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 11:28:08 AM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 12:00:54 PM

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Kelsi Singer, Oliver White, Bernard Schmitt, Erika Rader, Silvia Protopapa, et al.. Large-scale cryovolcanic resurfacing on Pluto. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2022, 13 (1), pp.1542. ⟨10.1038/s41467-022-29056-3⟩. ⟨hal-03666038⟩

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