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Icy worlds

Ice-rich planetary objects are geologically complex and diverse. Some harbour potentially habitable subsurface water oceans, so these bodies are a priority for further exploration. Here, we collate the latest research and opinion articles in Nature Geoscience that offer insights into icy worlds.


Pluto’s subsurface ocean and thickness variation in its ice shell may be maintained by a layer of methane clathrates forming an insulating cap to the ocean, according to calculations of thermal evolution and viscous relaxation.

Article | | Nature Geoscience

The large domes found on the dwarf planet Ceres may not result from cryovolcanism, but from solid-state flow analogous to salt doming on Earth, according to numerical simulations of gravitational loading.

News & Views | | Nature Geoscience

From the archives

The New Horizons mission has revealed Pluto and its moon Charon to be geologically active worlds. The familiar, yet exotic, landforms suggest that geologic processes operate similarly across the Solar System, even in its cold outer reaches.

Commentary | | Nature Geoscience

The exploration of ocean worlds in the outer Solar System offers the opportunity to search for an independent origin of life, and also to advance our capabilities for exploring and understanding life in Earth’s oceans.

Comment | | Nature Geoscience

Despite evidence for an ice-rich outer shell, little water ice has been observed on the surface of Ceres. Lobate morphologies observed on Ceres that are increasingly prevalent towards the dwarf planet’s poles are consistent with ice-rich flows.

Article | | Nature Geoscience