Hello Pluto

Posted: July 14, 2015 by Andrew in Astrophysics, solar system dynamics

imageAfter a nine year, three billion mile journey NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has reached Pluto Launched in 2006, travelling at over 30,000mph, the New Horizons spacecraft is in data gathering mode around Pluto.  Pluto (minor-planet designation: 134340 Pluto) is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt and the first trans-Neptunian object to be discovered. It is the largest and second-most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. (Source: Wikipedia) The probe is expected to investigate the moons: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos & Hydra. The data cache will take sixteen months to be transmitted home. The New Horizons craft has its own Facebook page. Slate covers some of the reactions to the event. The New Scientist & Telegraph have live coverage. The Guardian mentions snow, but nothing about global warming. The first results to be examined closely will determine whether (or not) the red hue seen is due to atmospheric chemistry.

Yes, the white bit does look like Pluto.

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image: @GeorgeTakei

Update. Exaggerated Colour

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image via @rebeccamorelle

Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    Some perspective on Pluto’s part of the solar system…

    Pluto’s orbit is quite elliptical (and tilted) compared to the major planets but nothing like as weird as Sedna…

    [Legend of orbits: Sedna (red), Jupiter (orange), Saturn (yellow), Uranus (green), Neptune (blue), and Pluto (purple)]

  2. scute1133 says:

    I listened to Radio 4’s 7:00PM bulletin. Apparently Eton College sent out some emails in error. I was astounded to hear such Earth-shattering news. No mention of Pluto though, so I suppose it can’t be anything to get excited about.