Have you ever broken up with someone only to later realize they were much cooler than you thought? That’s basically what’s going on with Pluto. To the dismay of everyone who dutifully learned the pneumonic device My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Ninety-Nine Pizzas in elementary school, the “P” i
n Pizza, Pluto, was downgraded to a dwarf planet, and the official number of planets in our solar system decreased from nine to eight.
But in mid-July, NASA released images of Pluto that revealed its secret awesomeness. Mountains that would “stand up respectably against the Rocky Mountains,” according to John Spencer, planetary scientist on the New Horizons mission, appear to be made of ice – water ice. Although it was previously hypothesized that Pluto was covered in ice, it was believed to be the non-life-sustaining kind of ice.
A few other shocking revelations about our ex-planet resulted from the images which were obtained via a probe that traveled over 3.6 billion miles since Jan 19, 2006.
Has Pluto been holding out on us? Or did it get cooler after the breakup? “This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,” said Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team leader Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The surface may still be active today.