Pluto’s Got It’s Own Stuff Goin’ On!

March 13, 2013 at 8:24 PM (astronomy topics, curious research, current news, extraterrestrial studies, historic review, public debate, science and technology, web gossip)

Alright.  I have been out of this game for a minute, but I am back now (whoop-tee-dooh….)!  I left with the topic of Planet Pluto, and that is where I find myself picking up the blog rants.  I was doing some Internet browsing a little earlier, and I got to a current page of articles with  As I am an astronomy studies advocate, I continue with my efforts to learn what I can learn about all that we are attempting to understand about outer space.  The continuing conversations and contentions about Pluto still gain much interest, as I find myself still somewhat shaken by the (…ahem) demotion of the distant world!

It was during 2006 that the citizens of Earth, as lead by The International Astronomical Union, opted to remove the designation of planet from Pluto.  During February of 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh was working at The Percival Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, Arizona.  Lowell was in the process of attempting to locate celestial objects orbiting beyond Neptune, the eighth planet of our solar system.  It was February 18, 1930, when Pluto was discovered by Tombaugh, to be designated as our solar system’s ninth world.  Yet, during 2006, astronomical observers of Earth, lead by Mike Brown and researchers at California Institute of Technology, were the determining factors in the removal of Pluto from it’s status as an official planet of our solar system.

Well, despite whatever Earth decides, Pluto remains at it’s distant orbital position from The Sun.  It is seeming to have all of what it needs to maintain the designation of a planet, including an atmosphere of carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen (albeit frozen during the majority of it’s 248-year orbit of The Sun).  Planet Pluto even has it’s own collection of moons!

The long-recognized Charon has been officially identified as the major moon of Pluto since 1978.  It was later realized that Pluto and Charon are in a synchronous orbit, indicating that both bodies revolve around each other as they orbit The Sun.  Additionally, Pluto hosts the moons Hydra and Nix, both discovered during 2005, along with S/2011 (134340) 1 and S2012 (134340) 1, recognized during 2011 and 2012, respectively.

This newly observed moon of Pluto currently is being called one of ten, or possibly more moonlets, that may be in orbit of Pluto!  The New Horizons space probe is scheduled to fly by Pluto during 2015.  It is being suggested that the current path of New Horizons is to be shifted, so that it will not collide with any previously unrecognized moons around Pluto.  The topic of collisions and Pluto arises, as it is being suggested that Charon may have collided with Pluto at some past point, allowing for the formations of Hydra and Nix!

The general audience will have to wait a couple of years to get the latest updates on the actual status of Pluto.  By 2o15, the New Horizons observations may allow for more intense revelations about the actual status of Pluto.  The views of the distant world, having it’s own atmosphere, and it’s collection of many moons, just might allow it to regain it’s rightful designation as planet!  What else are we looking for out there, people?

The path of New Horizons through Pluto's growing family. (Image Credit: NASA/ESA/A. Field STScl).





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