Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

America's Pastime: Planetary Science

Apologies to baseball fans and others for the theme of this week's Planetary Radio preview, which has star player Emily Lakdawalla on deck.

Pluto's atmosphere does not collapse

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:

Remembering the Pluto Campaign: A Success Story

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.

New Horizons: Encounter Planning Accelerates

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 Contest: Name the Moons of Pluto!

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.

Kuiper Belt Objects Submitted to Minor Planet Center

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.

Salacia: As big as Ceres, but much farther away

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.

Where are the big Kuiper belt objects?

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.

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