Poor old distant and icy Pluto was disregarded as a proper planet in 2006, but perhaps was underestimated by scientists.
New Horizons flyby passed the dwarf planet last year, recording a wealth of data about its complex layers of organic haze, ice mountains from some unknown geologic process, possible organics on the surface, and a liquid water ocean underneath.
All of these features which have appeared in the early studies of the data point to evidence for life.
The project’s planetary scientist Michael Summers said:
The connection with astro-biology is immediate – it’s right there in front of your face. You see organic materials, water and energy.
These are the things you need for life: organics, raw material and energy
The haze around Pluto reminded Summers of that of Saturn’s moon, Titan, which is the only moon in the Solar System with a liquid hydrological cycle.
It seems Pluto was judged too soon, and Summers confessed he never expected to talk about these things being on the dwarf planet despite having studied Pluto his entire life.
You never know, Branson could be organising passenger rockets to Pluto soon.