Today’s post is from Veronica Bray, a planetary scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson. She specializes in comparing the surfaces of planetary bodies across the solar system.
I love looking at New Horizons’ images of Pluto! But I spend most of my time looking elsewhere. Why? Because comparing Pluto with other planetary bodies helps me to understand what processes could be operating on Pluto’s surface and beneath its icy crust. Although a full understanding of planetary processes is a more complicated matter, the initial steps that I take as a comparative planetologist are simple: compare what the features look like on the different bodies.
Pluto’s surface is comprised of water ice and other exotic types of ice (e.g. methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen). This makes comparison to the icy moons of the outer solar system a logical place for me to look for analogous landforms. However, as the close-up images of Pluto came back from New Horizons, I was reminded of places closer to home. This blog post presents two examples of features on Pluto that remind me of landforms on Earth and Mars.
Polygons: Polygons on a planetary surface typically have five or more sides and can ...