Pluto Has Water and Blue Sky

NASA photo of Pluto

NASA photo of Pluto

This will send the creationists into a frenzy. The NASA website has this news: New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto. Here are a few excerpts:

The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue. “Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.

But that’s only half of the news:

In a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons.

Egad! First, NASA announced water on Mars. Now on Pluto. When will this nightmare end? Let’s read on:

“Large expanses of Pluto don’t show exposed water ice,” said science team member Jason Cook, of SwRI, “because it’s apparently masked by other, more volatile ices across most of the planet. Understanding why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places, is a challenge that we are digging into.”

Large expanses of Earth don’t show water ice either. One more excerpt:

A curious aspect of the detection is that the areas showing the most obvious water ice spectral signatures correspond to areas that are bright red in recently released color images. “I’m surprised that this water ice is so red,” says Silvia Protopapa, a science team member from the University of Maryland, College Park. “We don’t yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto’s surface.”

What will the creationists do? There’s water on Mars and on Pluto. And there’s water on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Oh, we know — they’ll say it’s evidence that the universe is young. Or maybe it has some connection with Noah’s Flood. They’ll think of something. They always do.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Pluto Has Water and Blue Sky

  1. Oooo, “exotic ices.” I must know more. To the Googles!

  2. Curmudg, you are forgetting the “waters of the firmament” (aka the waters above”), used to explain where all the water came from to flood the entire planet. Presumable it went back to wherever after the flood, now we are just finding out where it has been stored.

  3. Now, it would really be interesting if there were liquid water on Pluto. Creationists would probably join hands with the flat-earthers and say that this proved Pluto was really a tiny asteroid a few thousand miles away.

    Actually, it would be interesting to everyone, but rational peope would seek a rational explanation.

  4. OK, when will the first bar have “Pluto Bourbon” with red food dye ice cubes!

  5. Blue skies on Pluto has to be the title of my next book.

    Lovely thought.

  6. It’s just as the old folk-saying has it:

    Blue skies on Earth,
    Sailors feel mirth;
    Blue skies on Pluto,
    Sailors must scoot-o!

  7. AFTERTHOUGHT: I realise that, given the international readership of this blog, the rest of the hoary old folk-saying referenced above may not be as widely known as I suppose:

    Blue skies on Mercury,
    Sailor drinks daiquiri.
    Blue skies on Mars
    Sailor gets SARS.
    Orange skies on Jupiter,
    Sailor grows stupider.
    Teal skies on Saturn,
    Just won’t fit the pattern.
    Green skies on Neptune,
    Beware cameras in restroom!

    The profanity filters do not permit me to relate the anatomical hazards to sailors presented by red skies on Venus or Uranus…

  8. Megalonyx, it was prudent to omit verses about Venus and the Seventh Planet. Permit me to offer one more couplet to your splendid interplanetary epic, which is familiar advice for sailors on any planet:

    And if skies appear taupe,
    Don’t drop the soap!

  9. Megalonyx:
    “Teal skies on Saturn,
    Just won’t fit the pattern.”

    Nor the meter, either. (That’s “metre” to you, Megs.) Perhaps deleting “Just” will work:

    Teal skies on Saturn,
    Won’t fit the pattern.

    I don’t think it was fear of the profanity filters that kept Uranus out of your doggerel. More likely, you couldn’t come up with a rhyme you could work with. But then, is it pronounced “You-rain’-us” or “Yer’-in-us”? Either way, I can’t think of a good rhyme. Let’s throw the challenge out there.

  10. Pope Retiredsciguy edits:

    Perhaps deleting “Just” will work

    But then it does fit the pattern, thereby obliterating the carefully-crafted post-modernist deconstructed ironic joke.

    is it pronounced “You-rain’-us” or “Yer’-in-us”?

    Neither, in the Queen’s English. It’s OO-ran-us

  11. @Megalonyx: Well, the Queen must be a prude. After all, isn’t the name of the planet derived from Urania, the Greek Muse of Astronomy?
    Now, my American Heritage Dictionary pronounces the Muse yoo-RAY-nee-a; alternatively yoo-RAN-ya. Likewise for element #92, yoo-RAY-nee-um. No OO as in oogity-boogity. Does the Queen pronounce the element OO-ran-yum?

  12. Pope Retiredsciguy concludes

    Well, the Queen must be a prude.

    To contemplate for even a single second that Queen Elizabeth II would ever stoop to probe Uranus or sully her tongue with even a syllable thereof is to commit a most heinous act of lèse-majesté.

    When President Trump is inaugurated and you find yourself thereby amongst the hoardes of American refugees (finally filled with remorse for the folly of 1776 committed by your rebellious colonial forebearers), do not be surprised if your application for asylum in the UK is subjected to particularly rigourous scrutiny…

  13. Aaargh! Them ole HTML tag thingagummies just don’t co-operate with me! 😦

    [*Voice from above*] BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

  14. Uranus
    The Oxford English Dictionary gives five different British pronunciations, and two from the US, and they all begin with the “y” sound to “u”.

  15. So who you gonna believe, the OED or the Spitting Image clip at the OO-ran-us link? 🙂

  16. Tom S says: “The Oxford English Dictionary gives five different British pronunciations [of Uranus]”

    The Wikipedia entry on Uranus (of Greek mythology) says Οὐρανός, Ouranos [oːranós]. So I assume the Greeks pronounced it OO-rin-us. But the planet was given the name from Roman mythology, so to us, it’s still the planet that dare not speak its name.