Pluto’s heart-shaped basin might not hide an ocean after all

Rather than a vast ocean, Pluto’s heart might be hiding a huge, heavy treasure.

Computer simulations suggest that an object about 730 kilometers wide, slightly larger than the asteroid Vesta, could have slammed into the dwarf planet billions of years ago, forming the famous Sputnik Planitia and leaving behind a rocky remnant, researchers report April 15 in Nature Astronomy.

Sputnik Planitia first appeared in images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it zipped past Pluto in 2015 (SN: 7/15/15). The heart-shaped feature, which has roughly the same area as the Democratic Republic of Congo, sits three to four kilometers below the rest of Pluto’s surface and is filled

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