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Strange Weather in Pluto Directs Attention to Kuiper Belt, New Objects Identified

Oct 21, 2016 05:04 AM EDT
NASA Holds Media Briefing For The New Horizons' Pluto Fly-By
New discoveries in the Kuiper Belt region made scientists believe that there should be new missions launched to the Kuiper Belt to confirm new findings.
(Photo : Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NASA scientists are still trying to find out what lies within the Kuiper Belt. After scientists discovered what appear to be clouds on Pluto, another mysterious red object was seen in the region.

Based on the data by NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, scientists believe that 2014 MU69, an object in the Kuiper belt is as red a dwarf planet. The object lies farther away from Pluto at one billion miles beyond. Former studies suggest that the dwarf planet Pluto is one of the brightest in the Solar System. The luminosity comes from below the ice surface of the atmosphere making the dwarf planet bright and reflective.

"Because we see a pattern of high surface reflectivity equating to activity, we can infer that the dwarf planet Eris, which is known to be highly reflective, is also likely to be active," Bonnie Buratti, co-investigator from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.

Due to the new bright object and the clouds on Pluto, the scientists concerned with the New Horizons mission are more excited about the Kuiper Belt. Because of these new findings, they believe that more missions should be launched to directly observe the region on the edge of the Solar System.

Scientists argue that the recent discovery makes new missions to the Kuiper belt necessary to prove the conclusions. One of the most promising new information is the potential clouds on Pluto. The hazy atmosphere suggests that the planet should be free of clouds. The presence of clouds will make Pluto's atmosphere and its weather all the more interesting. If this is true, the dwarf planet that used to be an actual planet is more complicated that previously thought.

Until such time that new missions are launched to the Kuiper belt, these new conclusions and interpretations on New Horizons data will not be confirmed. But thanks to the interesting twists, scientists are now pushing for more studies concerning the Kuiper belt.


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