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Pluto’s Moon, Hydra, Covered With Pure Water Ice

Pluto’s moon, Hydra, is covered almost entirely in pristine water ice!


Compositional data from New Horizons spacecraft show a clear water-ice signature on Hydra. Photo credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

We have been amassing new data on Pluto like never before ever since New Horizons approached the dwarf planet. We also have had the chance to learn more about the moons of Pluto, and now, updated data sheds further light on its outermost moon, Hydra.

Hydra was photographed by New Horizons when the latter passed by Pluto last year. First images led scientists to suggest that its surface might be containing water. Now, after having analysed this data, the researchers have concluded that Hydra is indeed covered in pure water ice almost completely.

This theory was confirmed thanks to New Horizons’ Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) which was able to measure the spectral signature of water ice on Pluto’s moon. The results showed that the figures were even more prominent than those of Charon, the larger moon of Pluto. The researchers explain that Hydra is likely to be coated with greater ice particles, and less dusty dark material.

One of the scientists from the New Horizons team, Simon Porter, says that Hydra’s surface might be constantly refreshed by impacts from micrometeorites that leave off contaminants. This would, however, not be the case for Charon which has a stronger gravity, and is thus able to keep any debris on its surface.


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