December 07, 2016
Scientists Probe Mystery of Pluto’s Icy Heart
Was Pluto’s frozen heart formed in an ancient impact basin and was it once closer to the north pole? And does the icy heart conceal a subsurface ocean?
Scientists are offering several new scenarios to explain the formation of Pluto’s frozen heart-shaped feature, first spotted by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. Researchers have focused on the heart’s western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, a deep basin containing three kinds of ices—frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide—and appearing opposite Charon, Pluto’s large, tidally locked moon. While many scientists suspect that the western half of Pluto’s heart formed within a basin created long ago by the impact of a large Kuiper Belt object onto Pluto, at least one new scenario requires no impact.
Research by University of Maryland astronomy professor Douglas Hamilton and New Horizons colleagues, published this week in the journal Nature, shows that this nitrogen ice cap could have formed early on, when Pluto was still spinning quickly, and did not necessarily require an impact basin.
Hamilton’s model also showed that a small ice deposit naturally attracts more ices by reflecting solar light and heat. As a result, temperatures there remain low, which attracts more ice, and the cycle repeats.
An ocean beneath the surface can survive for billions of years because of heat produced by radioactive decay in Pluto’s rocky interior, he said, adding that the slow refreezing of an ocean can also explain the network of fractures seen on Pluto’s surface.
Source: Tricia Talbert, editor/NASA.gov
Ezekiel 36:26 (HCSB)
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
What does today’s God’s Story scripture teach us about a new heart?
A heart of stone represents a picture of hardness, stubbornness, coldness; a heart of flesh demonstrates gentleness, sensitivity and warmth. The human heart is naturally icy because of sin. And it doesn’t get better by any effort on our part. Without Jesus, our hearts become more hardened and desensitized. We may love our family and friends, but our hearts are hardened toward God. When we are saved, the Spirit of God arrives to live in us; he changes our hearts with his love and his light. He gives us a new heart - softened toward him and toward others.
How can I connect today’s God’s Story scripture to my life?
In today’s story, the scientists describe how a small amount of ice attracts more ice and then the cycle repeats. An icy heart stays icy - and gets icier, but a soft heart is drawn by God to Himself. And in response to God, you are drawn to others and they are drawn to you. How is God softening your heart and drawing you to certain people and places? Are you listening and responding to where he wants you to go or what he wants you to do? And are people being drawn to you because you are showing them a gentle, sensitive and warm heart?
How can I connect Today’s Story, God’s Story, and My Story to others?
You may have a particular friend whom God has placed on your heart. Take time this week to pray for him or her. Let God guide your heart to connect with your friend. And tell your story of the new heart God has given you.