Scientists discover dunes on Pluto
A team of scientists led by academics at Plymouth have published a landmark study revealing the discovery of dunes on the distant dwarf planet of Pluto. Writing in Science, the international working-group of geographers, physicists and planetary scientists revealed how they had analysed detailed images of the surface, captured in July 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. They concluded that the dunes are formed by methane ice grains released into its rarefied atmosphere, which are then transported by its moderate winds.
Dr Matt Telfer, Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University, was the paper’s lead author. He said: “We knew that every solar system body with an atmosphere and a solid rocky surface has dunes on it, but we didn’t know what we’d find on Pluto. It is another piece of the jigsaw in making sense of this diverse and remote body, and gives us a more fundamental understanding of the geological processes which are influencing it.”