Charon has a very deep canyon on its’ surface, which compares to no other geographical landmark discovered until now. This type of canyon is unique to our Solar System. The New Horizons space shuttle discovered this moon’s incredible feature when it passed Pluto’s icy worlds, in 2015.
Astronomers will continue to receive data from that unmanned mission until October. Humanity has taken a detailed look at Pluto’s frozen worlds, which orbit to the edge of the Solar System.
The information scientists got so far, shows surprisingly dynamic processes which shape the dwarf planet and its’ moon. These processes took place in a time span of over 4.5 billion years. And this probe still has a long way to go into the unknown.
The new findings suggest that the Universe still holds many secrets to scientists. According to researchers, these valuable data could not be anticipated without exploring the unknown areas of the Solar System and the distant corners of the Universe.
The newly discovered canyon has been named Argo Chasma. It is more than five times deeper than the Grand Canyon, stretching for 5.5 miles in depth.
The canyon cliffs rival those on Miranda, Uranus’ moon. So far, Verona Rupes Canyon had the tallest cliff face. This has all changed with the discovery of Argo Chasma on Charon.
Dr. Moore explained this canyon’s formation in two ways: either the low gravity on Charon, 20 times lower than Earth’s allowed for the formation of tall cliffs or the low possibility of being hit by asteroids contributed to a secure natural state, necessary for the canyon to form.
Before the New Horizons mission, we had almost no information on the Charon moon. We knew that it was composed of water ice and we had some clues about size and mass.
Data sent back to Earth shows vast activity on Charon. Such activity includes evidence of tectonic movement, glacial flow, and even cryovolcanoes.
Charon’s superior layer is made of water ice, and the nucleus was hot when it formed, but it cooled over time. As cooling occurred, the energy resulted in tectonic movements and canyons.
So far, only 40% of the Pluto and its’ moon surface have been analyzed, with 60% remaining to be explored.
Image Source – Wikipedia