Pluto’s Heart Was Hiding a Deep Secret


A photo of Pluto as seen by New Horizons'

Paige Richey, Photojournalist

When Pluto was declassified as a planet back in 2006, there was quite a bit of backlash. People seemed to think that because Pluto was no longer a planet it was somehow less important, or that there were fewer discoveries to be made about it than before. However, as the NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is proving, this isn’t true at all. Pluto is still filled with cool things to discover, and one of the more recent of these discoveries is that there is an actual ocean just under Pluto’s icy crust.

When New Horizons sent back a clear picture of Pluto, the world got to see that on its surface was a giant heart. This “heart” is roughly 12 miles across according to NASA and is the broken surface of an icy plain. Its shape is almost a perfect heart and it tops the little dwarf planet Pluto nicely. Not only is this just one more endearing feature of Pluto’s, but it actually provides some clues for something even more fascinating. “Pluto’s famous heart, which was created by an ancient impact, offers clues about a possible subsurface ocean”(globalnewsconnect). Underneath the ice of Pluto’s heart there is a very high likelihood that it contains an ocean which scientists have calculated to be over 62 miles deep. To put that in perspective the Mariana Trench is the deepest point on Earth, and it’s only about 6.8 miles deep. This means that Pluto’s subsurface ocean is more than seven times deeper than Earth’s own Mariana Trench. That’s not where the findings end. Scientists have also calculated that this ocean’s water would be as salty as the Dead Sea, one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth. Not too much else is known for sure about this ocean, but in time new information will most likely surface.

New Horizons’ findings and clear pictures of Pluto are exciting. Audrey Takanaga (10) says, “I always thought that Pluto’s heart was cute, but with this new discovery I think that it’s actually really interesting.” Anytime that people manage to go out and explore the unknown it has a sense of adventure and discovery. Pluto’s heart was an almost charming feature, but it turned out to be a little more than what originally met the eye.