Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pluto - dwarf planet or binary system?

**Didn’t ‘we’ decide that Pluto wasn’t a planet? And yet New Horizons, a probe/spacecraft we send out in 2006 is due to arrive there in 2015. Not that we can’t go anywhere that isn’t a planet, it just seems someone at NASA didn’t get the memo.**

On to the news at hand: Pluto has a new moon. (Five if you are counting.) Yesterday (July 11th), through the Hubble Telescope we discovered a tiny bit of a moon, only 10-24 kilometers across. This is great news to people who are looking for new things to study all the time, but hazardous to say the least to a spacecraft traversing space all to visit Pluto. New Horizons is traveling at speeds that are so fast a mere pebble could destroy it - to say nothing of the debris field of these five moons of Pluto.

Now there is the possibility that the poor dwarf planet once considered in the same breath as the big boys – Jupiter, Neptune,… then thought of as a poor cousin, a dwarf planet maybe considered instead a binary system.

Forget all that, the fun part is the naming of this new moon. We have been following an underworld naming convention for Pluto. So far we have Charon, Hydra, and Nix. Last year we located the fourth moon - P4 (haven’t given it a proper name as yet) and now we have P5.

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