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