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Space NASA

NASA Announces That Pluto Has Icebergs Floating On Glaciers of Nitrogen Ice (blastingnews.com) 50

MarkWhittington writes: The most recent finding from New Horizons show that icebergs have broken off from the hills surrounding the Sputnik Planum, a glacier of nitrogen ice, and are floating slowly across its surface, eventually to cluster together in places like the Challenger Colles, informally named after the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, which was lost just over 30 years ago. The feature is an especially high concentration of icebergs, measuring 37 by 22 miles. The icebergs float on the nitrogen ice plain because water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice.
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NASA Announces That Pluto Has Icebergs Floating On Glaciers of Nitrogen Ice

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  • Ob (Score:4, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:34PM (#51457397) Homepage Journal

    And it's still not a planet? You bastards!

    • It's -no longer- a planet.

    • Re: Ob (Score:5, Funny)

      by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @04:47PM (#51458683) Homepage

      It's spherical, it orbits a star, it should be a planet.

      And by the same definition, so should Ceres. Nobody ever thinks of Ceres. Always being kicked around and forgotten by school teachers, and then exploited by both Earth and Mars.. #freeceres #waterislife #opa

      • See this excellent answer on stackexchange http://astronomy.stackexchange... [stackexchange.com] for a really good explanation of why Pluto had to become a dwarf planet. Basically, if they didn't create a new category we would end up with 10 or twenty new "planets" that fitted very similar physical criteria to Pluto.
    • As I've said before, the reasons for "removing" "planet status" from Pluto (or, more strictly, defining "planet" and finding that it doesn't include Pluto) are not the reasons you give, but they are reasons.

      For an accessible summary, see Hal Levison's "hand waving explanation [swri.edu]." These may not be the criteria that you consider important, but the way to change that is to devote the couple of decades necessary to become a sufficiently respected voice in planetary science, and then to go and argue your case.

      Hi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:39PM (#51457421)

    Why can't we link to the original NASA article?

    http://www.nasa.gov/feature/pluto-s-mysterious-floating-hills [nasa.gov]

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:53PM (#51457501) Homepage Journal

      It's not Forbes. I count that as a win.

      • by camg188 ( 932324 )
        Link to BlastingNews instead of the original NASA source is a fail.
        Maybe timothy has some connection to BlastingNews.

        BTW, why is everything on Slashdot now posted by timothy? (whose profile link has been blocked)
        • Now as in since dicksplash took over? Or now as in since Dice did? Or now as in since pretty much forever?

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          It just looks like he's changed his homepage (your homepage URL is used in that field) and his actual profile is not, in fact, blocked.
          http://slashdot.org/~Timothy [slashdot.org]

          That'll take you right to his profile. If you hover over his name you'll see that's his monkey URL. You're probably not a monkey so you probably don't have much of anything at the monkey site. Of course, if you were a monkey then you'd know all about monkeys.

    • by Streetlight ( 1102081 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:59PM (#51457521) Journal
      The picture in the original NASA article to me shows arrangements like some chemical structures including perhaps fused rings. There is a nice hexagonal ring in the middle of the pic, much like a benzene ring, with some substitution. Do we have some kind of spontaneous formation of low energy structures here? All this is really neat.
      • When you have a layer of soap bubbles floating on water, the various forces will lead to a situation of lowest-energy / lowest forces needed to maintain structures / least material in 'cell walls' etc. Which -on a surface- happen to be hexagonal structures.

        Probably something similar is going on here? And sometimes -given the right conditions!- perhaps the same may even happen for 'permanent' structures like rocks or mountain ridges?

  • I guess they should be called Niceburgs.
      1. Travel to Pluto
      2. Mine some Frozen Nitrogen Icebergs
      3. Haul them back to Earth
      4. Chop them up into ice cube size
      5. Sell them to bars as the ultimate ingredient for frozen daiquiris
      6. Profit!

      Order early, because the delivery time might be a wee bit long . . .

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:43PM (#51457443)

    WTF???

    I can imagine them slowly sliding downhill, but "blastingnews" seems to not know what "float" means.

    • Actually, NASA used the term "float" [nasa.gov] to describe it because the water ice is less dense than the ice dominated by nitrogen. So, yes, the icebergs are floating.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        NASA used the term "float"

        Thanks.

        because the water ice is less dense than the ice dominated by nitrogen

        Ice -- whether water or nitrogen -- is solid. Thus, there is no displacement of nitrogen ice by water ice. Ergo, no floating.

        Another example might be a block of ice sitting on a bar of lead. It's not displacing any lead, so it's not floating.

        • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:06PM (#51457567) Homepage

          Nitrogen ices at these temperatures, while crystalline, have rather low viscosity. If you put weight on them, they slowly diffuse around it until the object either sinks or is buoyantly balanced out. The latter happens in the case of water ice.

          Also, it's worth noting that it's not pure nitrogen ices, it's a nitrogen-carbon monoxide-methane eutectic. Nitrogen is the most common component, however. Also, there are multiple crystal phases that can be taken, depending on the conditions. Nitrogen ices are most famous for having some rather "explosive" phase transitions between different states.

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            Nitrogen ices at these temperatures, while crystalline, have rather low viscosity.

            So the nitrogen doesn't form one huge crystal?

            If you put weight on them, they slowly diffuse around it until the object either sinks or is buoyantly balanced out.

            No jagged edges to interlock?

            • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:53PM (#51457817) Homepage

              No, it does not form "one huge crystal". Nitrogen ices at these temperatures have little structural integrity. It was well known before we got to Pluto that if we saw any sort of relevant topography, we'd know immediately that it was from water ice, as nitrogen ices are so weak that they'd just flow slack over time.

              • This isn't that uncommon. If you freeze ethanol in liquid nitrogen it turns into a rubbery solid which probably has flow dynamics
          • So it's like the air in Beijing, only colder?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Welcome to the realm of plastic reformation. Especially on geological scales, solids flow, with buoyancy and displacement being quite significant, whether talking about ice flows or how continents on Earth behave.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          There are also solid solutions.
          Mind boggling maybe but what your high school suggested was liquid only is not always the case.
  • by sandbagger ( 654585 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:42PM (#51457763)

    Done and dusted.

  • WITH LOUD AUDIO -5mod for pure spite
  • You float on liquid, you stand, slip, and glide on ice. Or maybe ski, if you have intent. Floating requires bobbing and the ice doesn't bob up and down in the frozen nitrogen.
    • Previous commenters noted that Nitrogen ices don't behave the same way water ices do.
      It is more like a thick fluid. Since it is denser than water ice, the water ices floats on the Nitrogen slushy,

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