Scientists recently detected ammonia on the surface of Pluto. This suggests that there is the existence of a hidden ocean deep inside the planet, Pluto.
Apparently, the rust-coloured patch on the planet means that a mix of liquid water and ammonia sometimes comes up to the surface of the planet through cryovolcanic vents.
Cryovolcanoes are ice versions of volcanoes that, instead of ash and molten rocks, expel water, methane and ammonia.
The author of the research, Cristina Dalle Ore said,
“In recent years, ammonia has been a bit like the ‘holy grail’ of planetary science. When found, it flags an environment that is conducive to life. This does not mean that life is present—and we have not yet found it—but it indicates a place where we should look.”
Dalle Ore, who is also a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre, and the team identified ammonia in spectral images. The images were taken by a spacecraft when it flew by Pluto in 2015.
Ammonia is a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen that lowers freezing point. This sort of moved the agenda that there might be aliens actually living on the planet.
The authors of the study said,
“Ammonia is a potentially important source of nitrogen in the solar system and plays a pivotal role in planetary chemistry. Until the work presented here, ammonia had not been detected spectroscopically on Pluto.”
This place on Pluto, called Virgil Fossae, has huge cracks tinted red. When ammonia faces exposure to sunlight and cosmic rays, it is prone to degradation. The fact that it was detected at Virgil Fossae means that the cryovolcanic eruptions occurred about a million years ago.
In the past, scientists have suspected the existence of a subsurface ocean on Pluto. They used geological simulation, surface analysis and thermal evolution models.
Scientists believe that other planets like Jupiter’s moons Callisto and Ganymede, and Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Dione show similar signs of water inside them.
There are also speculations that Earth has hidden seas and oceans too. This also means that there is a high chance that there are aliens in other planets.