Huge slushy ocean of life-giving water could signal alien life in our solar system
SCIENTISTS may be closer than ever to discovering alien life in our own solar system after finding what they believe is a huge OCEAN of liquid water under the surface of Pluto.
NASA boffins who sent a probe to photograph the distant dwarf planet have said data retrieved from the mission led to the groundbreaking discovery.
Stunned Professor Richard Binzel, who is part of the New Horizons team, said: «Pluto continues to surprise us».
The ocean of icy slush lies just under Pluto’s ‘heart’ — a light-coloured area with a dark patch that moves in an almost exact mirror image of its moon Charon around the surface.
Baffled scientists calculated that the chances of the near identical movement occurring randomly is just five per cent.
They previously figured the heart area named Tombaugh Regio is topped with frozen nitrogen ice that made it appear brighter than the rest of the planet.
The darker patch named Sputnik Planitia is thought to be an area where the nitrogen is «stirred» by heat rising from below, but they were baffled as to why it moved identically to Charon’s orbit.
It is now believed that area is warm enough to hold icy water — which would be heavy enough to have a gravitational effect on the moon, explaining how it moves with it.
«It’s not a liquid, flowing ocean, but maybe slushy», Binzel said of the discovery outlined in the journal Nature.
«We found this explanation was the only way to put the puzzle together that seems to make any sense».