Pluto has taken an Earthling ass-whuppin’ over the last handful of years. No longer a planet, its now considered a shitty ball of ice, barely capable of holding an orbit. Don’t feel too bad for it though, as it may prove to have the last laugh.
One lure of space travel is the possibility that we might find a source of energy on another world. Now, a study published this month inThe Astronomical Journal suggests that remote, frozen planetoid Pluto may harbor complex hydrocarbons like ethane and butane that are used as fuel here on Earth. These hydrocarbons, if confirmed, would also help explain the reddish-brown color we’ve seen on Pluto’s surface.
When the discovery was announced earlier this week, manycalled these possible hydrocarbons the ”building blocks of life.”We spoke to the lead author of the study,Southwest Research Institute scientist Alan Stern, who scoffed at this idea. “Let’s be clear. This has nothing to do with the possibility of life on Pluto,” he said today. “If I told a group of scientists that I’d found life based on this evidence, I would be laughed out of the room.”
But that doesn’t mean his group’s discovery won’t be important for future explorers. Explained Stern:
What we found is evidence for complex hydrocarbons. We have spent 40 years looking for hydrocarbons on Mars, and never found them. Then we look in the remotest part of the solar system, and here they are! We’re not sure what kinds of hydrocarbons they are yet, but they aren’t central to biology. We use them for fuel.
Pretty rad stuff. It would serve as a handy fueling station, only like (roughly) 3.5 billion miles away.