Dunes on Pluto

Telfer, Matt W. ; Parteli, Eric J. R. ; Radebaugh, Jani ; Beyer, Ross A. ; Bertrand, Tanguy ; Forget, François ; Nimmo, Francis ; Grundy, Will M. ; Moore, Jeffrey M. ; Stern, S. Alan ; Spencer, John ; Lauer, Tod R. ; Earle, Alissa M. ; Binzel, Richard P. ; Weaver, Hal A. ; Olkin, Cathy B. ; Young, Leslie A. ; Ennico, Kimberly ; Runyon, Kirby

Année de publication
The surface of Pluto is more geologically diverse and dynamic than had been expected, but the role of its tenuous atmosphere in shaping the landscape remains unclear. We describe observations from the New Horizons spacecraft of regularly spaced, linear ridges whose morphology, distribution, and orientation are consistent with being transverse dunes. These are located close to mountainous regions and are orthogonal to nearby wind streaks. We demonstrate that the wavelength of the dunes (~0.4 to 1 kilometer) is best explained by the deposition of sand-sized (~200 to ~300 micrometer) particles of methane ice in moderate winds (<10 meters per second). The undisturbed morphology of the dunes, and relationships with the underlying convective glacial ice, imply that the dunes have formed in the very recent geological past.

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