In 2015, NASA's New Horizons mission has found an interesting feature on Pluto's surface. A bright-colored heart-shaped formation makes the exploration on the tiny planet all the more compelling.
Scientific investigators have been drawn more to the western section of the two-lobed structure. The region has been named Sputnik Planitia.
Three ice gases have been identified to comprise this deep hole. These are the carbon monoxide, frozen nitrogen and methane.
Facing the Planitia it on the opposite side is Pluto's famous moon Charon.
How the Sputnik depression has developed is of particular interest to many scientific researchers. It has been perceived that a smaller heavenly body may have impacted Pluto at a considerable high speed.
Based on a new research, which was published on the Nature journal last December 1, 2016, by Professor Douglas Hamilton of the University of Maryland, the Planitia basin can be a result of the far planet's evolutionary development.
According to the astronomy expert, what separates his study from the rest is the concept that ice formation has commenced at a time when Pluto is still revolving at a higher pace. It should be noted that the ice cover is unevenly facing the planet's natural satellite Charon.
Hamilton also shares that the location of the Sputnik depression can be attributed to Pluto's irregular weather and spin axis which bends by 120 degrees. This high inclination rate is relevant to the dwarf planet's cold temperature which is more extreme than Earth's poles.
Pluto's colder region has been cited at 30 degrees north and south latitudes. Sputnik Planitia is within range at 25 degrees to the north.
The model presented by the Professor from the University of Maryland has shown that ice naturally accumulates at angles that lean away from solar light rays. As the low temperature is maintained, the region gathers more ice as the 248-year orbit of the planet goes on and on.
In line with this, it has been observed that the Sputnik depression has been filled with a considerable amount of ice which means that the hole has amassing solidified water all this time.
The large accumulations of ice are weighing heavily on the tiny celestial body which led to the deepening of the hole. Pretty much, the situation is like the basin made by the Greenland ice sheet which hammered down the crust that it leans on.