Latest Pluto Stories

2005-05-06 12:32:16

JPL -- Saturn's battered little moon Phoebe is an interloper to the Saturn system from the deep outer solar system, scientists have concluded. The new findings appear in the May 5 issue of the journal Nature. "Phoebe was left behind from the solar nebula, the cloud of interstellar gas and dust from which the planets formed," said Dr. Torrence Johnson, Cassini imaging team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.  "It did not form at Saturn.  It was captured...

2005-04-15 16:25:50

Gemini -- Recent spectroscopic studies of infrared light reflected from the surface of Sedna reveal that it is probably unlike Pluto and Charon since Sedna's surface does not display evidence for a large amount of either water or methane ice. Due to Sedna's extreme distance from the Sun, the frigid surface has probably been untouched for millions of years by anything except cosmic rays and solar ultraviolet radiation. Gemini Observatory astronomer Chad Trujillo led an effort by the same...

2005-04-05 19:20:00

Cambridge, MA -- When the distant planetoid Sedna was discovered on the outer edges of our solar system, it posed a puzzle to scientists. Sedna appeared to be spinning very slowly compared to most solar system objects, completing one rotation every 20 days. Astronomers hypothesized that this world possessed an unseen moon whose gravity was slowing Sedna's spin. Yet Hubble Space Telescope images showed no sign of a moon large enough to affect Sedna. New measurements by Scott Gaudi, Krzysztof...

2005-02-06 09:50:00

Flagstaff, AZ -- The planet Pluto turns 75 this month. Clyde Tombaugh discovered the ninth planet in the solar system on the afternoon of February 18, 1930 while he meticulously examined a pair of deep sky photographs at Lowell Observatory.  Tombaugh exposed the photographs on two nights in late January using the Observatory's 13-inch Abbott Lawrence Lowell Telescope. Then, as part of the carefully planned and executed planet search, Tombaugh "blinked" the two exposures using a machine...

2005-02-01 07:05:00

The evolution of Kuiper Belt objects, Pluto and its lone moon Charon may have something in common with Earth and our single Moon: a giant impact in the distant past. Astrobiology Magazine -- The evolution of Kuiper Belt objects, Pluto and its lone moon Charon may have something in common with Earth and our single Moon: a giant impact in the distant past. Dr. Robin Canup, assistant director of Southwest Research Institute's (SwRI) Department of Space Studies, argues for such an origin for the...

2005-01-10 15:25:00

Hubble -- Unique follow up observations carried out with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are providing important supporting evidence for the existence of a candidate planetary companion to a relatively bright young brown dwarf star located 225 light-years away in the southern constellation Hydra.Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile detected the planet candidate in April 2004 with infrared observations using adaptive optics to sharpen their view....

2005-01-10 15:20:00

JPL -- Astronomers say a dusty disc swirling around the nearby star Vega is bigger than earlier thought. It was probably caused by collisions of objects, perhaps as big as the planet Pluto, up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,200 miles) in diameter. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has seen the dusty aftermath of this "run-in." Astronomers think embryonic planets smashed together, shattered into pieces and repeatedly crashed into other fragments to create ever-finer debris. Vega's light heats the...

2004-12-31 08:39:33

Counting down the top ten astrobiology stories for 2004 highlights the accomplishments of those exploring Mars, Saturn, comets, and planets beyond Pluto. Number six in this countdown was the discovery of potential heat sources for ice beyond Pluto, an important finding if water is considered the key ingredient to understanding biological probabilities elsewhere in the solar system. Astrobiology Magazine -- Number six on the countdown of 2004 highlights was detection of planetoids beyond...

2004-12-11 10:35:00

In October 2002, the Hubble Space Telescope first spotted an icy planetoid beyond Pluto. Named after an American Indian god, Quaoar, the planetoid should be far colder based on its distance from the sun than it appears to be. One reason for its temperature may be internal heating from a radioactive core, or alternatively volcanoes and impacts. Astrobiology Magazine -- A planetoid beyond Pluto was discovered using the Hubble Space Telescope in October 2002, and given the name, Quaoar. Like...

2004-12-09 07:55:00

GITR -- In 30 years, a nuclear-powered space exploration mission to Neptune and its moons may begin to reveal some of our solar system's most elusive secrets about the formation of its planets -- and recently discovered ones that developed around other stars. This vision of the future is the focus of a 12-month planning study conducted by a diverse team of experts led by Boeing Satellite Systems and funded by NASA. It is one of 15 "Vision Mission" studies intended to develop concepts in the...

Latest Pluto Reference Libraries

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...

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...

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...

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...

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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Word of the Day
  • The call or cry of a bird or other animal to its mate or its young.
'Call-note' is newer than 'bird-call,' which originally referred to 'an instrument for imitating the note of birds' but now also refers to 'the song or cry of a bird.'