Giant Ice Towers Discovered On Pluto

Penitentes - ice towers - have been discovered on Pluto, the first time they have ever been observed anywhere other than Earth.

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The phenomenon has been identified in photographs taken back in 2015 by New Horizons when it flew past the dwarf planet, located in the Tartarus Dorsa region and measuring up to 500m high.

The strange, otherworldly looking ice structures are actually found on Earth, primarily in the higher altitude areas of the Atacama Desert in Chile, but are dwarfed by the size of the towers on Pluto.

“The identification of the ridges of Tartarus Dorsa as penitentes suggests that the presence of an atmosphere is necessary for the formation of penitentes, which would explain why they have not previously been seen on other airless icy satellites or dwarf planets,” said engineer John Moores.

“But exotic differences in the environment give rise to features with very different scales.”