When Pluto's frozen heart beats, it creates wind

When Pluto’s frozen heart beats, it creates wind

by Ashley Strickland, CNN

During its flyby of Pluto in 2015, NASA’s New Horizons mission captured a now iconic image of a heart-shaped feature on the dwarf planet. And new research about Pluto’s “frozen heart” has revealed that its “heartbeat” actually controls wind, which could sculpt the landscape on its surface.

The heart-shaped feature is known as Tombaugh Regio, named in honor of astronomer Clybe Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. Tuesday is also Tombaugh’s birthday.

Much of the dwarf planet’s nitrogen ice content can be found in this region, concentrated in a deep basin called Sputnik Planitia because the elevation is 1.9 miles lower than the surface. The ice sheet spans 620 miles.

The basin makes up the “left lobe” of the heart, while the right side is home to nitrogen glaciers and highlands.

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