Evidence for Crystalline Water and Ammonia Ices on Pluto's Satellite Charon

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Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 107-109
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.107

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Observations have resolved the satellite Charon from its parent planet Pluto, giving separate spectra of the two objects from 1.0 to 2.5 micrometers. The spectrum of Charon is found to be different from that of Pluto, with water ice in crystalline form covering most of the surface of the satellite. In addition, an absorption feature in Charon's spectrum suggests the presence of ammonia ices. Ammonia ice–water ice mixtures have been proposed as the cause of flowlike features observed on the surfaces of many icy satellites. The existence of such ices on Charon may indicate geological activity in the satellite's past.

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