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A fourth moon for Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/20 01:38 CDT | 2 comments

That's right: Hubble observations have yielded the discovery of a third small body orbiting Pluto and Charon.

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South of the Border

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/05/25 08:30 CDT

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

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The scale of our solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/02 11:26 CDT

Space.com has taken advantage of the infinitely scrollable nature of Web pages to produce a really cool infographic on the scales of orbital distances in the solar system.

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Pluto's atmosphere changes really fast!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/21 10:27 CDT

Pluto's atmosphere has been a subject of fascination for planetary astronomers since -- well, since astronomers first discovered that it had an atmosphere in the early '90s. The interest is partly because it's fascinating that such a distant and cold world is capable of supporting an atmosphere, and partly because the presence of the atmosphere confounds all attempts to measure Pluto's size precisely.

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A Planetary Society Trifecta

Posted by Charlene Anderson on 2011/02/25 03:25 CST

A Planetary Society trifecta -- that's what Neil Tyson calls this episode of his StarTalk radio show broadcast this week. His guests include the Society's Vice President, Heidi Hammel, and its Executive Director, Bill Nye, (along with the Society's friend, Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers).

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Eris might be smaller than Pluto after all (but it's still more massive)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/08 04:48 CST

Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.

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DPS 2010: Pluto and Charon opposition surges, Nix and Hydra masses, Pluto and Eris compositions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/25 11:18 CDT

An awful lot of the talks in the Pluto session on Tuesday morning, October 5, at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting spent more time focusing on how bad weather conditions were during the astronomers' attempts to view Pluto as it occulted background stars than they did on any measurements or science that came out from the data.

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New maps of Pluto show pretty amazing amounts of surface change

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/04 02:17 CST

I just posted my writeup of today's press briefing on a new map of Pluto produced from Hubble images. The main conclusion was that Pluto has shown an astonishing amount of changes across its surface between 1994 and 2002 -- more, in fact, than any other solid surface in the solar system.

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Ted Stryk: Report from New Horizons science team meeting

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2010/01/19 07:55 CST

The New Horizons science team is meeting this week. Ted Stryk was invited to attend the meeting, and he sent the following notes from the first day.

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Ever Plan Ahead? How About Six Years Ahead?

Posted by Alan Stern on 2009/05/19 07:05 CDT

Despite still being more than six years and just over 18 Astronomical Units from the Pluto system, the project team for New Horizons is conducting the second and final portion of our Pluto Encounter Preliminary Design Review (EPDR) tomorrow and the next day.

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Frame a Pluto portrait

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/04/07 01:27 CDT

As New Horizons continues its journey (it's now approaching the orbital distance of Saturn, though it's very far from that planet in space), the mission is taking advantage of the recent experience with the Jupiter flyby to plan out the science operations for the Pluto-Charon encounter.

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Yet another active world: Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/18 05:14 CDT

I've just posted a news story on a recently published paper that suggests that Pluto's moon Charon may have active ice volcanoes.

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Bedtime for New Horizons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/06/28 06:07 CDT

According to the mission website, the New Horizons spacecraft has drifted off to sleep, entering its "hibernation" mode for the first time.

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New Horizons spots Pluto!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/11/29 10:24 CST

Yesterday the New Horizons team released a flicker animation showing the spacecraft's first sight of Pluto, using the LORRI long-range imaging instrument.

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Suggestions for names of Pluto's moons

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/02/21 10:23 CST

I received quite a number of emails containing suggested names for Pluto's moons -- thanks! I just sent all the suggestions to Alan Stern; here they are for everybody's enjoyment.

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Speaking of Pluto...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/02/20 07:31 CST

I just posted today's installment of Planetary Radio, in which Mat Kaplan gets an update on New Horizons from Principal Investigator Alan Stern-- check it out!

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Some more New Horizons stuff for you to read as the clock ticks down...

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2006/01/17 07:25 CST

Last night Amir Alexander posted a very thorough pre-launch news story on New Horizons, "New Horizons Set to Launch on 9 Year Voyage to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt." There are lots of details in there I haven't read anywhere else.

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(Almost) everything you ever wanted to know about New Horizons and Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/12/20 05:56 CST

I was browsing around the Web today looking for material to improve the information we have on our site about Pluto, and discovered that the New Horizons mission has just posted their launch press kit.

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An official pronouncement may be coming about the "what is a planet?" debate

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2005/09/21 02:28 CDT

Since the discovery of 2003 UB313, larger than Pluto, there's been a lively debate going on in many places about what makes a planet. There's now an article in Nature talking about a proposal that would address the controversy

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Pluto: The Discovery of a Planet

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2005/02/18 11:00 CST

To mark the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the planet Pluto, The Planetary Society presents to its readers the remarkable story of the discovery.

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