Pluto TOP STORY

Countdown to a Rendezvous with Pluto Video in Story

© Dr. Tony Phillips/Science@NASA/NASA

Countdown to a Rendezvous with Pluto

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

© NASA

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.


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NASA Finally Responds To Simple Questions About the New Horizons Mission to Pluto

NASA Finally Responds To Simple Questions About the New Horizons Mission to Pluto

Three months ago I asked the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) some simple questions regarding possible changes to the New Horizons encounter with Pluto based on recent data indicating debris in the region.


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New Horizons Gets a New Year's Workout

New Horizons Gets a New Year's Workout

Like many of us, New Horizons is starting the new year with a workout regimen. After six months of cruising quietly through the outer solar system, NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft came out of hibernation last weekend for three weeks of activity that include system checks, a new flight software upload and science data downloads.


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Hybrid Fluid/Kinetic Modeling of Pluto's Escaping Atmosphere

Hybrid Fluid/Kinetic Modeling of Pluto's Escaping Atmosphere

Predicting the rate of escape and thermal structure of Pluto's upper atmosphere in preparation for the New Horizons Spacecraft encounter in 2015 is important for planning and interpreting the expected measurements.


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Pluto's Seasons: New Predictions for New Horizons

Pluto's Seasons: New Predictions for New Horizons

Since the last Pluto volatile transport models were published (Hansen and Paige 1996), we have (i) new stellar occultation data from 2002 and 2006-2012 that have roughly twice the pressure as the discovery occultation of 1988, (ii) new information about the surface properties of Pluto, (iii) a spacecraft due to arrive at Pluto in 2015, and (iv) a new volatile transport model that is rapid enough to allow a large parameter-space search.


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A 3D General Circulation Model for Pluto and Triton

A 3D General Circulation Model for Pluto and Triton

We present a 3D general circulation model of Pluto and Triton's atmospheres, which uses radiative-conductive-convective forcing. In both the Pluto and Triton models, an easterly (prograde) jet is present at the equator with a maximum magnitude of 10-12 m/s and 4 m/s, respectively.


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Halfway Between Uranus and Neptune, NASA New Horizons Cruises On to Pluto

Halfway Between Uranus and Neptune, NASA New Horizons Cruises On to Pluto

On 28 November 2012 the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft passed the halfway point between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, zooming past another milepost on its historic trek to the planetary frontier.


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Dwarf Planet Makemake Lacks Atmosphere

Dwarf Planet Makemake Lacks Atmosphere

Astronomers have used three telescopes at ESO's observatories in Chile to observe the dwarf planet Makemake as it drifted in front of a distant star and blocked its light. The new observations have allowed them to check for the first time whether Makemake is surrounded by an atmosphere.


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Pluto's Moons and Possible Rings May Be Hazards: New Horizons and the Gauntlet it may Encounter in 2015

Pluto's Moons and Possible Rings May Be Hazards: New Horizons and the Gauntlet it may Encounter in 2015

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is now almost seven years into its 9.5-year journey across the solar system to explore Pluto and its system of moons. Just over two years from now, in January 2015, New Horizons will begin encounter operations, which will culminate in a close approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, and the first-ever exploration of a planet in the Kuiper Belt.


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Sharpest-Ever Ground-Based Images of Pluto and Charon

Sharpest-Ever Ground-Based Images of Pluto and Charon

Despite being infamously demoted from its status as a major planet, Pluto (and its largest companion Charon) recently posed as a surrogate extrasolar planetary system to help astronomers produce exceptionally high-resolution images with the Gemini North 8-meter telescope.


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NASA Hubble Discovers Fifth Moon of Pluto

NASA Hubble Discovers Fifth Moon of Pluto

A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.



More top stories from April.