Recent Hubble images of Pluto are showing us a world that may be unexpectedly active on the surface. Such a small object so far away that takes so very long to revolve around the sun should not have very many ways to exercise such rapid changes upon its surface. Scientists studying Pluto say that the color shape shifting seen in just two years is shockingly dramatic and they know these changes are not some image artifact as Charon (Pluto’s dwarf planet partner) remains unchanged during the same period. Plainly, there is something happening on Pluto that is not taking place on another nearby body.
I expected the arrival of New Horizons at Pluto in 2015 to reveal to us another grey frozen cratered world, but instead… the encounter looks like it might be quite a bit more exciting than expected. I cannot wait to see this black, orange and active world up-close and hopefully New Horizons will also reveal to us what processes could possibly be causing such changes to take place. See Centauri Dreams for more.