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Charon has Geysers too
SigurRosFan
post Jul 18 2007, 04:08 PM
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The only mechanism that explained the data was cryovolcanism, the eruption of liquids and gases in an ultra-cold environment.

This action could be occurring on timescales as short as a few hours or days, and at levels that would recoat Charon to a depth of one millimeter every 100,000 years.
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- Charon: An Ice Machine in the Ultimate Deep Freeze


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elakdawalla
post Jul 18 2007, 04:18 PM
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...I'm working on a story right now...type fast, Emily, type fast...

I can report now that there has been so much media interest in this that the first author on the paper, Jason Cook, had his email inbox fill up yesterday and start bouncing messages!

--Emily


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volcanopele
post Jul 18 2007, 05:42 PM
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Very interesting! Okay...so now I am confused. Occultation data suggests the presence of a large impact basin on Charon's leading hemisphere and now we see that there is geologic activity on this world. Maybe this moon is kinda like Dione, most an ancient surface with numerous fractures that penetrate down to some liquid water/ammonia pocket in the interior.

Hopefully, they can determine the likely longitudes for active locations. Maybe NH's trajectory can be adjusted to image these areas.


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climber
post Jul 18 2007, 06:00 PM
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We know there are Geysers on Triton, now Charon, so I guess Pluton is on the list too...


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David
post Jul 18 2007, 08:32 PM
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This is annoying:

QUOTE
Charon is the companion world to Pluto (or one would say a moon of Pluto, except that Pluto is no longer considered to be a planet)


Not because of any residual quarrel about Pluto, but because nobody has ever said that objects other than planets could not have moons (we speak of "asteroid moons" easily enough) and because the phrasing "companion world" is without either warrant or precedent. What is the Gemini Observatory up to here?
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nprev
post Jul 19 2007, 09:48 AM
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From Emily's excellent article (way to fly those fingers, E, and nice job on the illustration, Doug!):

"The possibility is raised," Cook and coauthors write, "that there is more liquid water in the Kuiper belt than on Earth."

What else can be said but <clink> blink.gif ?


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djellison
post Jul 19 2007, 10:26 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Jul 19 2007, 10:48 AM) *
nice job on the illustration, Doug!


The Pluto part was done a few weeks ago as part of something else - the Charon was just a variation on it. The texture, for those wondering, is 50% Dave Seals Charon map, 50% Enceladus - as a noise pattern mixture.

Doug
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Rob Pinnegar
post Jul 19 2007, 01:44 PM
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Hmm. This is interesting.

I wouldn't have thought that something as small as Charon could still have liquid water in its interior. This isn't like Enceladus or Miranda where a big gas-giant planet is available to power tidal heating.

Just to speculate: My understanding is that a lot of the Earth's uranium floated to the crustal layer during the planet's formation. You'd expect such a heavy element to sink, but uranium likes to combine chemically with oxygen, and that provides it with a lot of buoyancy.

On a body like Charon, though, the uranium would only be able to float to the top of the core -- where it would remain, insulated by a 500-km-deep layer of ice. So should we expect ice/rock bodies like Pluto, Charon and Triton to hold onto their radiothermal heat more efficiently than similarly-sized rocky bodies? (Assuming we could find any similarly sized rocky bodies, of course.)
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Juramike
post Jul 19 2007, 01:58 PM
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Wow.

Would this then imply that we might expect ancient cryovolcanoes, like really old and cratered versions of Tortola facula or Ganesa macula on Titan, on the surface of larger KBO objects like Pluto and friends?

-Mike


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remcook
post Jul 19 2007, 02:53 PM
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If the surface is covered with fresh ice I can imagine the surface looking quite young...
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marsbug
post Jul 19 2007, 03:06 PM
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Apart from heat due to radioactive materials, are there any other potential heat sources that far out? For example (picks an idea out of the air) could there have been a recent impact large enough to have liquified the interior? I know any ideas would be pure speculation, but thats all we'll have until june 2015 sad.gif . The ammonia in the (possible) water might allow for heat sources ordinarily to feeble to be considered to have an impact. Would anyone care to speculate?


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Littlebit
post Jul 19 2007, 03:07 PM
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Charon - the ultimate in fresh powder skiing...or in the limited gravity with Pluto pulling so closely would it be powder surfing?
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centsworth_II
post Jul 19 2007, 03:13 PM
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Or would it be powder cross country, with few sloped surfaces?
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Juramike
post Jul 19 2007, 03:18 PM
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A current projected resurfacing rate of 1 mm/1E5 years would only give about an inch and a half of powder over the age of the solar system.

Even if the resurfacing rates were much, much higher in the past, the powder may only obscure some of the smaller really old features.

It should look quite pretty. I imagine craters and peaks all lightly coated and sparkly with a thin ice glazing.

[Littlebit, I'd strongly suggest using rental skis, instead of your own. wink.gif ]

-Mike


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Rob Pinnegar
post Jul 21 2007, 07:24 PM
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QUOTE (marsbug @ Jul 19 2007, 09:06 AM) *
... could there have been a recent impact large enough to have liquified the interior?

Probably not... an impact big enough to liquify the interior would probably also have thrown Charon's orbit off-circular. We'd be able to see the ellipticity of its orbit, I think.
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