Although it is widely known that the rings are mainly water ice, the latest Cassini data has ruled out ammonia ice and methane ice
. What's surprising, however, is that it can't detect the organic compounds at all.
Giuranna said that further research was needed to determine the extent of the methane ice
sheet near Gale Crater.
The clouds are said to from when the flow of ambient air is perturbed and diverted upwards over the dark vortex, thereby causing the gasses to freeze into methane ice
Read more: Pluto's marvelous methane ice
dunes surprise scientists
USING DATA SENT BACK from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft after its 2015 flyby of Pluto, planetary scientists think they've found evidence of wind-built ripples of methane ice
on the world's surface.
Experts said the likely source of the dune grains is methane ice
blown from nearby mountains.
The addition of nitrogen and methane ice
spotted on the surface of the tiny world may also help keep the water warm.
Naturally, one then would ask, "Can pure methane ice
support such steep structures under Pluto's gravity and surface temperature conditions over geologic time?"
Slight warming of the water above these deposits is all it takes to melt the methane ice
and release the stored methane--a powerful greenhouse gas with 82 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 25-year period.
While Uranus and Neptune are mostly composed of hydrogen and helium, they both contain significant amounts of methane ice
, which gives them their bluish appearance.
"And probably some methane ice
and carbon dioxide ice, with a little rock thrown in.