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Latest Pluto Stories

1ada921b12071e09dd0d50fb4fb69ead1
2010-07-30 07:08:45

The discovery is expected to shed light on the early stages of solar system formation. Astronomers have imaged a very young brown dwarf, or failed star, in a tight orbit around a young nearby sun-like star. An international team led by University of Hawaii astronomers Beth Biller and Michael Liu with help from University of Arizona astronomer Laird Close and UA graduate students Eric Nielsen, Jared Males and Andy Skemer made the rare find using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager, or NICI,...

2010-06-20 08:18:52

A large group of scientists, including Jay Pasachoff, Bryce Babcock, and Steven Souza at Williams College, reveal the character of one of the most distant objects in the solar system in a scientific paper which appeared in the June 17 issue of the journal Nature. In observing the object named 2002 TX300 on October 9, 2009, as it passed in front of a distant star, they could tell what its surface is like and its size. For several years, Pasachoff, Babcock, and Souza have worked with James...

1c64cdc6898c37b0c95d7c070be2d9151
2010-06-19 07:50:00

Zipping through space at nearly a million miles per day, NASA's New Horizons probe is halfway to Pluto and just woke up for the first time in months to look around. "Our spacecraft is way out in exotic territory, in the middle of nowhere," says Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist at Johns Hopkins University. "And we have a lot to do." It's the perfect opportunity to test New Horizon's instruments before the probe reaches Pluto in 2015. "We don't want to miss a single breathtaking...

e9432015ce20598de995da567a85817a1
2010-06-16 14:31:04

Occultation provided enough data to determine the KBO's size and albedo Until now, astronomers have used telescopes to find Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), moon-sized bodies, and obtain their spectra to determine what types of ices are on their surface. They have also used thermal-imaging techniques to get a rough idea of the size of KBOs, but other details have been difficult to glean. While astronomers think there are about 70,000 KBOs that are larger than 100 kilometers in diameter, the...

d70b09aa467ac51df40de96cc26f6cbf1
2010-06-15 07:19:28

We got some super-creative ideas from people on the NASAJPL Facebook page when we asked this question: "Planning a summer trip? Talk to your friends and family -- if you could design your dream space vacation, where would you go?" As promised, we're posting a small sampling of comments here, but you can read all the comments, or post your own ideas at http://www.facebook.com/NASAJPL. Eoghan Lappin: Moon for breakfast. Mars for lunch. Titan for dinner. Then all the way to Gliese 581d on a trip...

7e73f8a1ab6386cb3a70f8cf363c39f61
2010-05-24 14:28:22

Astronomers are reporting today the discovery of a planetary system way out of tilt, where the orbits of two planets are at a steep angle to each other. This surprising finding will impact theories of how multi-planet systems evolve, and it shows that some violent events can happen to disrupt planets' orbits after a planetary system forms, say researchers. "The findings mean that future studies of exoplanetary systems will be more complicated. Astronomers can no longer assume all planets...

641209725bc691536e48145e09c10fa91
2010-04-16 13:13:29

Lonely Pluto floats in the darkness at the edge of our solar system. It's so far away even the Hubble Space Telescope has trouble making out the details. Nevertheless, Pluto is so interesting, even fuzzy images of the dwarf planet are compelling. A team of researchers led by Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute recently released the best Hubble images to date. The data reveal an icy molasses-colored world with a surprising amount of activity. Buie compared Hubble images taken in 1994...

97a100c5392673b580a5cee68a479544
2010-04-07 06:35:00

According to the first ever infrared analysis of the atmosphere of Neptune's moon Triton, summer is in full swing in its southern hemisphere. The European observing team used ESO's Very Large Telescope and discovered carbon monoxide and made the first ground-based detection of methane in Triton's thin atmosphere. These observations revealed that the thin atmosphere varies seasonally, thickening when warmed. "We have found real evidence that the Sun still makes its presence felt on Triton,...

799ee8020ea57cd4e6e45d2a5ec4c620
2010-04-06 09:15:00

As our telescopes grow more powerful, astronomers are uncovering objects that defy conventional wisdom. The latest example is the discovery of a planet-like object circling a brown dwarf. It's the right size for a planet, estimated to be 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter. But the object formed in less than 1 million years "” the approximate age of the brown dwarf "” and much faster than the predicted time it takes to build planets according to some theories. Kamen Todorov of Penn...

370417d1ad4068599f8b1971b6414ed21
2010-02-13 20:30:00

Twenty years ago on February 14, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft had sailed beyond the outermost planet in our solar system and turned its camera inward to snap a series of final images that would be its parting valentine to the string of planets it called home. Mercury was too close to the sun to see, Mars showed only a thin crescent of sunlight, and Pluto was too dim, but Voyager was able to capture cameos of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from its unique vantage point. These...


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...

4_fa986c4947be6caa1fdc9a322408b0882
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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Word of the Day
cacodemon
  • An evil spirit; a devil.
  • A nightmare.
  • In astrology, the twelfth house of a scheme or figure of the heavens: so called from its signifying dreadful things, such as secret enemies, great losses, imprisonment, etc.
'Cacodemon' comes from a Greek term meaning 'evil genius.'
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