New Horizons Space Probe’s Big Date with Pluto on July 14th 2015

“Nix, Styx, Hydra, Charon and Kerberos” – the five known moons of Pluto all have magical sounding fairy names which make them sound a little bit like the five known dwarves [ or gnomes] of the solar system. Hilariously, at least two of these moons, ‘Hydra’ and ‘Nix’, have very odd wobbling irregular orbits which match their names as well. NASA scientists described some of these orbits as more akin to “tumbling in absolute chaos.”

Soon, after nearly a decade in space, and having traveled the ‘hard to imagine’ distance of 3.7 billion miles from our humble home on earth, the space probe “New Horizons” will finally arrive in close proximity to Pluto, hopefully to provide humanity with it’s clearest, sharpest, most high resolution photos of the planet to date. The target date is July 14th 2015. It will take those photos more than 4 hours to reach earth, traversing the vast distance between our world and Pluto.

Pluto Dwarf Planet Profile

Mass: 13,050,000,000,000 billion kg (0.00218 x Earth)
Diameter: 2,368 km (+- 20km)
Known Moons: 5
Notable Moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx more info
Orbit Distance: 5,874,000,000 km (39.26 AU)
Orbit Period: 246.04 Earth years
Surface Temperature: -229°C
Discovery Date: 18th February 1930
Discovered By: Clyde W. Tombaugh

This historic NASA mission has long been planned, as Pluto is the last planet to be cataloged in photos and video by a visiting  probe from earth. Mark your Pluto social calendars people. We’ve got an important date to all get a better look at the “last but not least” of our solar system’s planetary neighbors, the one which is located way way way down there at the far end of the longest block in our neighborhood, tiny enigmatic Pluto.

Until then, some of our best existing Hubble photos are being analyzed  and reviewed. And we can always count on our most imaginative artists to render their very best guesses. Not too shabby:

Artist’s rendering of Pluto with her largest moon, Charon, courtesy of http://galleryhip.com

The New Horizons spacecraft, depicted in this artist's rendering, is set to come within just a few thousand miles of Pluto. It is expected to take the first up-close photos of the dwarf planet.

Re-post below courtesy of http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/33011835

Hubble telescope studies Pluto’s wobbly moons

 Illustrations of Plutos moon Nix
A computer model shows how the moon called Nix tumbles unpredictably.

Scientists have discovered that Pluto’s moons travel in a series of unusual directions.

They made the discovery after analysing ten years of data from the Hubble telescope.

Pluto and moons

The Pluto system has five known moons.

This is different to how our Moon travels around the Earth.

We only ever see one side of the Moon because the time it takes for it to spin on its axis is almost exactly the same as the time it takes to orbit the planet.

However this isn’t the case for Pluto’s moons.

Pluto artwork

Artist’s view of Pluto: All will become clearer when New Horizons passes through on July 14th 2015.

Scientists think this unusual motion is enhanced by the moons being roughly the same shape as a rugby ball rather than a football.

“If you can imagine what it would be like to live on [these moons], you would literally not know where the Sun was coming up tomorrow,” said Mark Showalter from the Seti Institute, US.

Experts will get a clearer picture of their findings in six weeks time when the moons are passed by Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft.

See also: NASA:  “Pluto’s Moons Are ‘Tumbling In Absolute Chaos”

1 Response to New Horizons Space Probe’s Big Date with Pluto on July 14th 2015

  1. Pingback: Finally, Pluto! After an Epic Nine Year Journey, NEW HORIZONS Commences Her Historic Fly-By | Modern Astronomy

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