Imagine a moon that was tearing its surface like the Incredible Hulk ripped through his shirt when he got angry. That is what is happening with one of Pluto’s moons, Charon.
Charon has a rather odd look, it appears ripped and scarred because of deep valleys and incredibly high ridges that put the Grand Canyon to shame. Serenity Chasma is one of the largest chasms in the entire Milky Way, measuring 1,800 kilometers long and 7.5 kilometers deeps. By comparison, the Grand Canyon is 466 kilometers long and only 1.6 kilometers deep.
NASA researchers believe that its unique surface formations are because of an ancient subsurface ocean that froze and expanded. They started studying Charon’s huge chasms when the New Horizon spacecraft grabbed images of the moon in July. The theory is that the moon expanded rapidly when its internal temperature cooled, freezing its deep subsurface ocean.
Then, much like an ice cube in an ice tray the frozen water expanded, on a massive scale. The result is the tearing and ripping of the surface, creating the largest chasms in the solar system.
As the team puts it, “The moon expanded in its past, and – like Bruce Banner tearing his shirt as he becomes the Incredible Hulk – Charon’s surface fractured as it stretched.”
To develop this theory, scientist used pictures that were taken 78,700 kilometers away by the New Horizon’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager on July 14, 2015.