Latest Pluto Stories

2008-06-14 13:27:08

Updated 6:35 p.m. ET Pluto's years-long identity crisis just got more complex today. The International Astronomical Union has decided on the term "plutoid" as a name for Pluto and other objects that just two years ago were redefined as "dwarf planets." The surprise decision is unlikely to stem ongoing controversy and confusion, astronomers say. Sidestepping concerns of many astronomers worldwide, the IAU's decision, at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Oslo, comes almost two years...

2008-06-11 11:20:00

The International Astronomical Union has decided on the term plutoid as a name for dwarf planets like Pluto at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Oslo.Almost two years after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly introduced the category of dwarf planets, the IAU, as promised, has decided on a name for transneptunian dwarf planets similar to Pluto. The name plutoid was proposed by the members of the IAU Committee on Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN), accepted by the...

2007-10-10 09:25:00

"Beep"¦ beep"¦ beep...." That's the sound that marked the beginning of the Space Age fifty years ago. It was a simple radio tone transmitted by the first satellite, Sputnik 1, as it orbited Earth in October 1957. Since then communication with spacecraft has advanced tremendously. Yet a modern probe on the way to the edge of the solar system is using Sputnik-like tones to send messages back to Earth. Why the retro technology? It solves a modern problem: multiplication. Sputnik...

2007-08-07 13:05:00

PHOENIX (AP) - Scientists have discovered the universe's largest known planet, a giant ball made of mostly hydrogen that is 20 times larger than Earth and circling a star 1,400 light-years away. Scientists believe the planet is 1.7 times the diameter of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and has a temperature of 2,300-degrees. "There is probably not a really firm surface anywhere on the planet. You would sink into it," said Georgi Mandushev, a research scientist at Lowell...

2007-06-14 13:00:00

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has teamed up with the W.M. Keck Observatory to precisely measure the mass of Eris, the largest member of a new class of dwarf planets in our solar system. Eris is 1.27 times the mass of Pluto, formerly the largest member of the Kuiper Belt of icy objects beyond Neptune. Hubble observations in 2006 showed that Eris is slightly physically larger than Pluto. But the mass could only be calculated by observing the orbital motion of the moon Dysnomia around Eris....

2007-05-01 15:35:10

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system, stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet's atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere. These new views include the closest look yet at the Earth-sized "Little Red Spot" storm churning materials through Jupiter's cloud tops; detailed images of small satellites herding dust and boulders through Jupiter's faint rings; and of volcanic eruptions and circular grooves on the planet's...

2007-04-12 17:43:52

Flagstaff, Ariz. "“ For the first time, water has been identified in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet.  Through a combination of previously published Hubble Space Telescope measurements and new theoretical models, Lowell Observatory astronomer Travis Barman has found strong evidence for water absorption in the atmosphere of transiting planet HD209458b.  This result was recently accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal (http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0704.1114)....

2007-03-24 13:40:00

PASADENA, Calif. -- In the outer reaches of the solar system, there is an object known as 2003 EL61 that looks like and spins like a football being drop-kicked over the proverbial goalpost of life. Still awaiting a more poetic name, 2003 EL61 largely escaped the media hubbub during last year's demotion of Pluto, but new findings could make it one of the most important of the Kuiper-belt objects for understanding the workings of the solar system. In this week's Nature, the original discoverer...

2007-03-10 09:00:00

Andy Cheng has seen it all. The scientist from Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab has worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Cassini mission to Saturn, the NEAR mission to asteroid 433 Eros and many others during his decades-long career. Alien vistas are old hat to him. But even he was amazed when he laid eyes on this photo of Io's Tvashtar volcano, taken Feb. 28th by the New Horizons spacecraft: Omigod! I can't believe it. "That was my first reaction," says Cheng. "The LORRI image of...

2007-02-28 15:45:00

LAUREL, Md. -- NASA's New Horizon's space probe was pointed toward Pluto and the frozen, sunless reaches of the solar system on a nine-year journey after getting a gravity boost Wednesday from Jupiter. The fastest spacecraft ever launched was within a million and a half miles of Jupiter early Wednesday, giving scientists a close-up look at the giant gaseous planet and its moons. Mission managers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. waited for the first signals from...

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
  • A stinking tobacco.
  • Offal; waste animal product; organic matter unfit for consumption.
This word comes from the Spanish 'mondongo,' tripe, entrails.