Pluto, nasa
Complex patterns at Pluto's Tartarus Dorsa region.NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Scientists have recently found proof that, like Earth, Pluto's surface is home to snow and ice. The discovery has been made with the help of a model used by meteorologists to forecast the weather, aided by a computer simulation.

Also Read: NASA: These findings will reveal more about Mars' mysterious climate

Bowl-shaped depressions, known as "penitents" were found on Pluto.

John Moores from Toronto's York University was the lead author of the research paper. He collaborated with scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and said such features may also exist on other planets with similar environments.

The ridges have been found in Pluto's Tartarus Dorsa region, also known as Pluto's day-night terminator, pointing to the presence of an atmosphere crucial for penitent formation.

"Exotic differences in the environment give rise to features with very different scales," Moore said in the journal Nature.

"This test of our terrestrial models for penitents suggests that we may find these features elsewhere in the solar system, and in other solar systems, where the conditions are right," he added.

Christina Smith from York University, Scott Guzewich of Goddard Space Flight Center ,and Anthony Toigo from APL were also part of the research.

The researchers compared their model to the image of Pluto taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in 2015, and found that Pluto's ridges were enormous, around 500 metres (1,600 feet) and were separated by three to five kilometres (two to three miles) in contrast to Earth.

"This gargantuan size is predicted by the same theory that explains the formation of these features on Earth," Moores said.

"In fact, we were able to match the size and separation, the direction of the ridges, as well as their age: three pieces of evidence that support our identification of these ridges as penitents," he said further.

Moreover, Pluto has an environment with thinner air, lower temperatures, a dimmer sun, and a surface consisting of methane and nitrogen, and covered with snow and ice, which is quite different in comparison to Earth's surface, and the law of nature applied is the same, Moore explained.

He also credited NASA and APL for crucial information on Pluto's environment by using a model meteorologists use for weather forecasting.