Pluto TOP STORY

New Horizons Redefines Definition of "Planet" and "Moon"

© NASA

New Horizons

Based on stories in the New York Times (and elsewhere) it would seem that the NASA New Horizons mission team is redefining what it means to be a "planet" and a "moon". Do NASA and the IAU agree?


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New Horizons Begins First Stages of Pluto Encounter Video in Story

© NASA/JHUAPL

New Horizons

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft recently began its long-awaited, historic encounter with Pluto.

Pluto

Trans-Neptunian Objects Suggest More Planets

Trans-Neptunian Objects Suggest More Planets

There could be at least two unknown planets hidden well beyond Pluto, whose gravitational influence determines the orbits and strange distribution of objects observed beyond Neptune.


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Have We (Almost) Found All Large Outer Solar System Objects?

Have We (Almost) Found All Large Outer Solar System Objects?

"... the probability that there is one or more remaining outer solar system object of this brightness left to be discovered in the unsurveyed regions of the galactic plane is approximately 32%."


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New Horizons Spacecraft Set to Wake Up for Pluto Encounter

New Horizons Spacecraft Set to Wake Up for Pluto Encounter

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft comes out of hibernation for the last time on Dec. 6. Between now and then, while the Pluto-bound probe enjoys three more weeks of electronic slumber, work on Earth is well under way to prepare the spacecraft for a six-month encounter with the dwarf planet that begins in January.


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Hubble Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons

Hubble Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons

Peering out to the dim, outer reaches of our solar system, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) the agency's New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after it flies by Pluto in July 2015.


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Voyage to Pluto: NASA's New Horizons Mission Continuing Voyager's Legacy of Exploration

Voyage to Pluto: NASA's New Horizons Mission Continuing Voyager's Legacy of Exploration Video in Story

NASA's Mission to Pluto was a two part televised science event at NASA headquarters on August 25 - the same date that the agency's New Horizons spacecraft passed the orbit of Neptune on its way to Pluto and exactly 25 years after the Voyager spacecraft's encounter with Neptune in 1989.


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ALMA Pinpoints Pluto to Help Guide New Horizons

ALMA Pinpoints Pluto to Help Guide New Horizons

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) are making high-precision measurements of Pluto's location and orbit around the Sun to help NASA's New Horizons spacecraft accurately home in on its target when it nears Pluto and its five known moons in July 2015.


Pluto

NASA ScienceCasts: One Year to Pluto

NASA ScienceCasts: One Year to Pluto Video in Story

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is only a year away from Pluto. Researchers are buzzing with anticipation as NASA prepares to encounter a new world for the first time in decades.


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Did Pluto Once Have an Underground Ocean?

Did Pluto Once Have an Underground Ocean?

If the icy surface of Pluto's giant moon Charon is cracked, analysis of the fractures could reveal if its interior was warm, perhaps warm enough to have maintained a subterranean ocean of liquid water, according to a new NASA-funded study.


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Countdown to a Rendezvous with Pluto

Countdown to a Rendezvous with Pluto Video in Story

One of the fastest spacecraft ever built -- NASA's New Horizons -- is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and it is nearing its destination: Pluto.


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The Sounds of New Horizons

The Sounds of New Horizons

What does New Horizons say when it calls home? Nothing, without the help of software that transforms zeros and ones from New Horizons' computers into images, instrument readings, or useful information on the spacecraft's status. Those datasets are then transmitted to Earth by the telecommunications (radio) system aboard New Horizons.


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Pluto Satellites' Orbits Hint of Long-Ago Collisions

Pluto Satellites' Orbits Hint of Long-Ago Collisions

A large impact 4 billion years ago may account for the puzzling orbital configuration among Pluto's five known satellites, according to a new model developed by planetary scientists from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).


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Names Selected by the Public in a Vote for New Pluto Moons Approved by the IAU

Names Selected by the Public in a Vote for New Pluto Moons Approved by the IAU

The IAU is pleased to announce that today it has officially recognised the names Kerberos and Styx for the fourth and fifth moons of Pluto respectively (formerly known as P4 and P5). These names were backed by voters in a recently held popular contest, aimed at allowing the public to suggest names for the two recently discovered moons of the most famous dwarf planet in the Solar System.


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Size, Shape, and Density of Dwarf Planet Makemake

Size, Shape, and Density of Dwarf Planet Makemake

A recent stellar occultation by dwarf planet Makemake provided an excellent opportunity to measure the size and shape of one of the largest objects in the Kuiper belt. The analysis of these results provided what were reported to be precise measurements of the lengths of the projected axes, the albedo, and even the density of Makemake, but these results were, in part, derived from qualitative arguments.


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Vulcan for the Win! Closing the Pluto Rocks Campaign

Vulcan for the Win! Closing the Pluto Rocks Campaign Video in Story

A discussion on the end of polling to name the moons of Pluto. Moderated by Alan Boyle, with scientists Franck Marchis, and Mark Showalter.


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Here's Your Chance to Name Two of Pluto's Moons

Here's Your Chance to Name Two of Pluto's Moons

It was seven months ago that Mark Showalter and a team of researchers at the SETI Institute discovered two new moon around Pluto. Named P4 and P5 the astronomers decided that the formal names should be open to public selection through a contest.



More top stories from January.