According to recent studies, scientists have hypothesized that the mysterious freezing dwarf planet, Pluto could possibly harbor life in a subsurface ocean.
After ammonia had been detected on Pluto’s largest moon and another smaller moon, it was certain that Pluto contained ammonia. On earth, ammonia is a compound not very conducive to life, but some researchers believe that life could be spawned in such an environment on celestial bodies such as Pluto.
“It’s no place for germs, much less fish or squid, or any life as we know it,” says William McKinnon, the author of two Pluto studies published in the journal Nature. “But as with the methane seas on Titan — Saturn’s main moon — it raises the question of whether some truly novel life forms could exist in these exotic, cold liquids.”
However, these extreme ammonia levels might be incompatible with even the most basic life forms. If the subsurface ocean is not freezing, the levels of ammonia would be very extreme.
Also, tectonic activity on the dwarf planet made scientists suggest that Pluto was expanding and not contracting. As a result, most scientists think that Pluto is holding a shifting subsurface ocean. What the New Horizons results showed was a global expansion, which meant an unconfirmed subsurface ocean could be slowly freezing.
“If you’re going to talk about life in an ocean that’s completely covered with an ice shell, it seems most likely that the best you could hope for is some extremely primitive kind of organism. It might even be pre-cellular, like we think the earliest life on Earth was,” Dr. McKinnon said, according to a Washington University of St. Louis press release.
“The ideas about a subsurface ocean are credible but are just thoughts. To confirm such an ocean exists, scientists will need gravity measurements or gravity subsurface soundings. It will be up to the next generation to accomplish these findings!” says McKinnon.