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Nitrogen rivers may have once flowed on Pluto

This enhanced color image of Pluto highlights the many subtle color differences between Pluto’s distinct regions. The imagery was collected by the spacecraft’s Ralph/MVIC color camera on July 14, 2015, from a range of 22,000 miles. (Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)
This enhanced color image of Pluto highlights the many subtle color differences between Pluto’s distinct regions. The imagery was collected by the spacecraft’s Ralph/MVIC color camera on July 14, 2015, from a range of 22,000 miles. (Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)

Rivers and lakes of liquid nitrogen may have splashed over Pluto’s surface hundreds of millions of years ago, and could do so again, due to shifts in the dwarf planet’s orbit and the tilt of its orbit.

That hypothesis is a good fit for the evidence collected last July when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past the dwarf planet and its moons, scientists said today.

Today’s revelations came during a review of New Horizons’ findings at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. Research teams shared their latest findings about the mission, including some that have yet to be published in journals such as Icarus.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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