Bad News from Pluto, the planet is all-set to lose its atmosphere by 2030


Pluto, now not even called a planet, is facing something called an “atmospheric collapse”. Researchers believe that the process is already mid-way and the celestial body will get rid of its atmosphere in the coming 11 years.

The calculations here are based on Pluto’s surface pressure, researchers calculate this by observing ground based occupations — these occur when the foreign body being analysed blocks light coming from far away stars. When Pluto blocks light, researchers are able calculate the amount of light absorbed by its atmosphere, thus allowing them to observe changes in the celestial body’s atmosphere.

All observations are published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. According to the study, the researchers used 28 years of data — a data that was collected by scientists from across 8 countries using ground-based telescopes and New Horizons Spacecraft as it flew past Pluto in 2015.

Researchers modelled Pluto’s seasons and analysed how they evolve. The reaction of Pluto’s seasons to sunlight was also monitored during various times of orbit. Basically, a complete atmospheric picture was created.

They found that from 1988 to 2016, Pluto’s pressure has tripled.

Andrew Cole, author of the study and an assistant professor at University of Tasmania’s School of Nature Sciences, said “When Pluto is farthest from the Sun and is experiencing winter, in the Northern Hemisphere of the celestial body, the Nitrogen in its air freezes.” He further added, “Pluto’s atmospheric level has tripled in the last three decades and as the planet orbits, our observations show that its atmosphere will frost out and condense to almost nothing by 2030.”

After the collapse of its atmosphere, Pluto will appear much brighter, mainly due to the nitrogen frost that will hide the planet’s red terrain. “The striking red terrain of Pluto as seen in the images from New Horizons could fade way”, said Cole.

“This research has been crucial in furthering our understanding of Pluto and what we know about atmospheres, extreme climatic conditions and ice ages.”