Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Why didn't we discover Pluto's moons until more than a decade after Hubble launched? Mark Showalter helps me answer this question.
Ted Stryk reports on the status of the New Horizons mission from the mission's latest Science Team Meeting.
Apologies to baseball fans and others for the theme of this week's Planetary Radio preview, which has star player Emily Lakdawalla on deck.
Just four months ago I posted about a paper recently published by Leslie Young and coauthors that described three possible scenarios for Pluto's atmosphere. Yesterday, Cathy Olkin, Leslie Young, and coauthors posted a preprint on arXiv that says that only one of those scenarios can be true. And it's a surprising one. The title of their paper says it all:
Does Pluto have an ocean under its ice? If it doesn't now, did it ever have one? How will we know?
My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.
The New Horizons mission to Pluto survived many near-death encounters with cancellation during its development. The Planetary Society worked the whole time to ensure it would launch.
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.
New Horizons might see a Pluto with a northern polar cap, a southern polar cap, or both caps, according to work by Leslie Young.
Last week, I posted an explainer on why Hubble's images of galaxies show so much more detail than its images of Pluto. Then I set you all a homework problem: when will New Horizons be able to see Pluto better than Hubble does? Here's the answer.
How come Hubble's pictures of galaxies billions of light years away are so beautifully detailed, yet the pictures of Pluto, which is so much closer, are just little blobs? I get asked this question, or variations of it, a lot. Here's an explainer.
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.
Recently, several of the Kuiper Belt Objects our team has discovered while searching for New Horizons post-Pluto flyby candidates have been submitted to the Minor Planet Center and their orbital information is now in the public domain.
The New Horizons Pluto mission PI provides an update, and introduces his new public project called Uwingu.
A few talks at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting discussed observations of a double occultation -- both Pluto and Charon passing in front of the same star.
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.
A newly published paper shows trans-Neptunian object Salacia to be unexpectedly large; it's somewhere around the tenth largest known thing beyond Neptune. It has a companion one-third its size, making it appear similar to Orcus and Vanth.
Earlier today I wrote a post about how to calculate the position of a body in space from its orbital elements. I'm trying to get a big-picture view of what's going on in trans-Neptunian space.
Emily Lakdawalla and I drove down to the 3rd annual San Diego SpaceUp Unconference on February 4. We had great fun hanging out with the other space geeks.