Introduction[edit | edit source]

An ice world is a type of planet whose surface is covered primarily by solidified volatiles. The global cryosphere that spans an ice planet's surface can be composed of water, methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other volatiles. In the majority of cases the composition of an ice world's outer layer relates to its surface temperature.

Because of the low temperatures, the surface conditions of ice planets are hostile to life forms like those living on terrae. Many ice worlds have subsurface oceans, warmed by internal heat or tidal forces from another nearby body. Liquid subsurface water provides habitable conditions for multicellular life. The shell of an ice world is often divided in several plates that converge and diverge in a process similar to plate tectonics. This process generates heat that additionally contributes to the increased temperatures found in the subglacial oceans.

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