Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.
Pluto's moons, formerly known as
Back in 2005 and 2006, when Pluto’s second and third moons (Nix and Hydra) were discovered, searches by astronomers for still more moons didn’t reveal any. So the accidental discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon by the Hubble Space Telescope in mid-2011 raised the possibility that the hazards in the Pluto system might be greater than previously anticipated.
The discoverers of Pluto's fourth and fifth moons are inviting the public to vote on (and write in candidates for) their formal names. Voting closes in two weeks.
Pluto is now known to have at least five moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, P4, and the newly discovered P5), and its burgeoning population might pose a risk to New Horizons during its flyby, three years from now.
That's right: Hubble observations have yielded the discovery of a third small body orbiting Pluto and Charon.
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.
Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. It's hard to believe it's been going strong for so many years.
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.
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.
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!