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Latest Pluto Stories

2bf199371cd556a92bcfd41f85d2dc781
2006-01-19 13:05:00

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- An unmanned NASA spacecraft the size and shape of a concert piano hurtled toward Pluto on Thursday on a 3-billion-mile journey to the solar system's last unexplored planet - a voyage so long that some of the scientists who will be celebrating its arrival are still in junior high. The New Horizons spacecraft blasted off aboard an Atlas V rocket in a spectacular start to the $700 million mission. Though it is the fastest spacecraft ever launched, capable of reaching...

2006-01-18 10:57:18

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA canceled Wednesday's launch of the U.S. space agency's first probe to Pluto after the mission control headquarters in Maryland lost power, officials said. The launch of the piano-sized New Horizons spacecraft on a massive Atlas 5 rocket had been postponed from Tuesday due to high winds at the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA officials said it was not immediately clear why mission control at Johns Hopkins University's...

2006-01-18 07:30:00

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Bad weather forced NASA to scrub its first planned launch of an unmanned spacecraft on a nine-year voyage to Pluto, the solar system's last unexplored planet, and strong winds were threatening another delay Wednesday. The launch of the New Horizons probe was called off Tuesday afternoon after winds at the launch pad exceeded the space agency's 38 mph flight restriction. "The winds picked up sooner than expected," said MIT scientist Richard Binzel, one of the...

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2006-01-18 06:40:00

NASA -- In the not-too-distant past, the planet Pluto was thought to be an odd bird in the outer reaches of the solar system because it has a moon, Charon, that was formed much like Earth's own moon was formed. But Pluto is getting a lot of company these days. Of the four largest objects in the Kuiper belt, three have one or more moons. "We're now beginning to realize that Pluto is one of a small family of similar objects, nearly all of which have moons in orbit around them," says Antonin...

2006-01-17 16:02:16

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA on Tuesday delayed the liftoff of its first probe to Pluto because of high winds and rescheduled the launch for Wednesday, officials at the U.S. space agency said. The piano-sized New Horizons probe had been due to take off on a massive unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station between 1:24 p.m. and 3:23 p.m. (1824 GMT and 2023 GMT). But launch commentator Bruce Buckingham said ground level winds at the...

2006-01-16 16:15:44

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A massive rocket designed to give NASA's first Pluto probe a high-speed kick out of Earth's gravity was rolled out to the launch pad on Monday in preparation for liftoff. The 197-foot-tall rocket was scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral at 1:24 p.m. EST on Tuesday. Aboard was NASA's relatively puny New Horizon's probe, a half-ton, piano-sized craft equipped with seven science instruments that collectively use less power than a...

2006-01-15 15:00:15

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA's first space probe to Pluto, set to lift off on Tuesday, will use radioactive plutonium pellets to power much of its expected nine-year journey to the far reaches of the solar system. The U.S. space agency, which is seeing protests against the plutonium load, will use the largest rocket in the U.S. fleet as part of a plan that calls for bouncing the small probe, about the size of a grand piano, off Jupiter's massive gravity...

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2006-01-12 14:35:00

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cliff Friedman's name may go far in Dallas real estate circles, but that doesn't come close to the 3 billion-mile trip it will begin in a few weeks. Friedman's name is one of about 435,000 names placed on a compact disc that will be in the New Horizons spacecraft when it launches from Cape Canaveral this week on a mission to Pluto and the outer edges of the solar system. "My wife thinks it should be put out a little bit further," said Friedman, 48, a Dallas real estate...

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2006-01-12 14:35:00

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- It will be the fastest spacecraft ever launched, zooming past the moon in nine hours and reaching Jupiter in just over a year at a speed nearly 100 times that of a jetliner. Its target is Pluto - the solar system's last unexplored planet, 3 billion miles from Earth. And the New Horizons spacecraft, set for liftoff on Tuesday, could reach it within nine years. Pluto, a tiny, icy misfit of a planet - some say it's not a planet at all - neither resembles the rocky...

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2006-01-05 10:25:00

Stellar occultation allows VLT to determine Charon's size and to put upper limit on its atmosphere ESO -- Observing a very rare occultation of a star by Pluto's satellite Charon from three different sites, including Paranal, home of the VLT, astronomers were able to determine with great accuracy the radius and density of the satellite to the farthest planet. The density, 1.71 that of water, is indicative of an icy body with about slightly more than half of rocks. The observations also put...


Latest Pluto Reference Libraries

6_07e7808819d3a0e0b1e9459490122f2b2
2004-10-19 04:45:42

Planet -- A planet is a body of considerable mass that orbits a star and that doesn't produce energy through nuclear fusion. Until recently, only nine were known (all of them in our own Solar system). As of the end of 2002 over 100 are known, with all of the new discoveries being extrasolar planets. Astronomers often call asteroids minor planets, and call the larger planetary bodies (those which are commonly called planets) major planets. Planets within the solar system can be...

6_79b1bf0245952aa2e5b479867b1c322b2
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Asteroid -- An asteroid, also called a minor planet or planetoid, is a member of a group of small, planet-like bodies that are part of our solar system. They are believed to be remnants of the interstellar clouds, nebula, that were not incorporated into planets during the formation of the solar system. The largest asteroid in the inner solar system is Ceres with a diameter of 1003 km. It also was the first to be discovered, by Giuseppe Piazzi on January 1, 1801. Nowadays, over 9000...

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2004-10-19 04:45:41

Quaoar -- Quaoar ("kwah-oh-ahr", /kwA o Ar/) is a Trans-Neptunian object circling the Sun in the Kuiper belt, discovered in 2002 by astronomers Chad Trujillo and Mike Brown at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Quaoar is estimated to have a diameter of about 1,280 kilometres, which would make it the largest Solar System object discovered since Pluto and, indeed, the largest known minor planet. Larger than all the asteroids put together, it is about one...

4_6800f2092e75e4b2d9813609957b23e52
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Kuiper Belt -- The Kuiper belt is an area of the solar system extending outwards from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to 50 AU. The largest of the objects in the Kuiper belt are the planet Pluto and its moon Charon. A new Kuiper belt object, currently called 2001 KX76, has been found that is about the size of Charon, and larger than Ceres. Another such object, Quaoar, discovered in 2002, is half the size of Pluto. Other known Kuiper belt objects are progressively smaller. The exact...

4_f6c7da539e4ce5858ae8aafa252e5d7e2
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Charon -- Charon is the only known satellite of Pluto. Charon was discovered by astronomer James Christy in 1978 using photographic plates which showed a bulge moving around Pluto. Christy named it after the Greek mythological figure Charon but pronounced it differently. The "ch" at the beginning of the moon's name is soft so it sounds like "Sharon," after the astronomer's wife Charlene, nicknamed Char, which both have soft ch sounds. The mythological figure's name is...

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