Penitentes as the origin of the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa on Pluto

  title={Penitentes as the origin of the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa on Pluto},
  author={John E. Moores and Christina L. Smith and Anthony Domenick Toigo and Scott D. Guzewich},
Penitentes are snow and ice features formed by erosion that, on Earth, are characterized by bowl-shaped depressions several tens of centimetres across, whose edges grade into spires up to several metres tall. Penitentes have been suggested as an explanation for anomalous radar data on Europa, but until now no penitentes have been identified conclusively on planetary bodies other than Earth. Regular ridges with spacings of 3,000 to 5,000 metres and depths of about 500 metres with morphologies… 
Simulating the formation of Martian penitentes
Abstract Penitentes are surface features that are formed from sublimation caused by internal reflections of incoming solar radiation within water ice or snow surfaces. These features have been
Washboard and fluted terrains on Pluto as evidence for ancient glaciation
Distinctive landscapes termed ‘washboard’ and ‘fluted’ terrains1,2, which border the N2 ice plains of Sputnik Planitia along its northwest margin, are among the most enigmatic landforms yet seen on
Bladed Terrain on Pluto: Possible origins and evolution
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Equatorial mountains on Pluto are covered by methane frosts resulting from a unique atmospheric process
High-resolution numerical simulations of Pluto’s climate are used to show that the processes forming them are likely to be completely different to those forming high-altitude snowpack on Earth.
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It is shown that slow surface sublimation is indeed the physical mechanism responsible for the differential ablation of ice surfaces, and the formation of Zen stones on frozen lakes and the shape of the resulting pedestal are elucidated.
Modern Mars' geomorphological activity, driven by wind, frost, and gravity
Abstract Extensive evidence of landform-scale martian geomorphic changes has been acquired in the last decade, and the number and range of examples of surface activity have increased as more
Formation of spiky structures in high-altitude snow patches: penitente tilting
Penitentes are spikes formed on the surface of the snow, which are present typically at high altitude in the Andes and Himalayas. They are a consequence of a thermodynamic instability, as a result of
Ammonia-water freezing as a mechanism for recent cryovolcanism on Pluto
Abstract NASA's New Horizons flyby of the Pluto-Charon system in 2015 exposed a multitude of geologically active terrains on the surface of Pluto. Possible evidence of cryovolcanism has been reported
Penitente formation is unlikely on Europa
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA. *e-mail: Europa’s icy surface is unknown at the metre scale. Hobley et al.1 argue that 15-m-tall


Vigorous convection as the explanation for Pluto's polygonal terrain.
A parameterized convection model is reported to compute the Rayleigh number of the N2 ice and show that it is vigorously convecting, making Rayleigh-Bénard convection the most likely explanation for these polygons on Pluto.
Sublimation as a landform-shaping process on Pluto
Fields of pits, both large and small, in Tombaugh Regio (Sputnik Planitia, and the Pitted Uplands to the east), and along the scarp of Piri Rupes, are examples of landscapes on Pluto where we
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Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft has revealed a complex geology of Pluto and Charon, including evidence of tectonics, glacial flow, and possible cryovolcanoes, and these findings massively increase the understanding of the bodies in the outer solar system.
Intra-surface radiative transfer limits the geographic extent of snow penitents on horizontal snowfields
Abstract Penitents are broad snow spikes and ridges that range in height between centimeters and meters. Two key features of penitents remain unexplained: (1) they generally form at low latitudes and
The Origin of Penitents
Penitents are observed on all the snow fields and glaciers of the Santiago Andes between 4000 and 5200 m. They are caused by the prolonged action of the sun in a dry and cold atmosphere, The
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It is reported, on the basis of available rheological measurements, that solid layers of nitrogen ice with a thickness in excess of about one kilometre should undergo convection for estimated present-day heat-flow conditions on Pluto and shown numerically that convective overturn in a several-kilometre-thick layer of solid nitrogen can explain the great lateral width of the cells.
Controlled irradiative formation of penitentes.
The first laboratory generation of centimeter-scale snow and ice penitentes is reported, demonstrating that penitente initiation and coarsening require cold temperatures, so that ablation leads to sublimation.
Pluto’s insolation history: Latitudinal variations and effects on atmospheric pressure
Abstract Since previous long-term insolation modeling in the early 1990s, new atmospheric pressure data, increased computational power, and the upcoming flyby of the Pluto system by NASA’s New
Physical processes causing the formation of penitentes.
This work investigates the physical processes at the initial stage of penitente growth and performs the linear stability analysis of a flat surface submitted to the solar heat flux and found that it is controlled by aerodynamic mixing of vapor above the ice surface.
Comparison of a simple 2‐D Pluto general circulation model with stellar occultation light curves and implications for atmospheric circulation
[1] We use a simple Pluto general circulation model (sPGCM) to predict for the first time the wind on Pluto and its global, large-scale structure, as well as the temperature and surface pressure.