Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Pluto and it's big Moon
Charon . As seen from
New Horizon's probe on
July 11th , 2015.
We (as in NASA) finally (1)>> arrived after 9 and a half years , 30 thousand mph . That's as close that any space probe has ever traveled . You might say it close enough  , but not close to the speed of light.Yet it's faster than the speed of sound . 3 billion miles is so far that radio communication takes almost 4 hours to reach earth . WELCOME PLUTO! . Earlier, the space agency released the most detailed picture yet as it hurtled towards the dwarf planet on Tuesday. The probe was set to grab more images and other data as it passed just 12,500 km from the little world at 11:50 GMT . Images set to be released on Wednesday will be more than 10 times the resolution of those already published. New Horizons' flyby of 2,370 km-wide Pluto is a key moment in the history of space exploration. As I am writing this while on vacation , I have been watching NASA TV pretty much on updates . It's a bit of a nail biter  situation if you a mission control scientist . The New Horizon's probe has to still clear the area around Pluto before transmitting as series of "pings" that signal that the probe is alive and well , and *** HOPEFULLY did crash into some debris around Pluto . Pluto's surface seems to be much younger than Charon's gray facade, New Horizons leader Alan Stern said in a press conference today.
Pluto in black
and white .
Its relative lack of impact craters suggest the dwarf planet's surface is renewing, either by geological or atmospheric activity, such as erosion. 
For the first time, scientists have a precise estimate for Pluto's diameter. It turns out it's slightly bigger than expected, so the former planet can keep its title of “King of the Kuiper Belt”.Pluto is 2,370 kilometers (1,473 miles) in diameter, give or take 20 kilometers. This makes it undisputedly larger than (3)>> Eris, the second largest object in the Kuiper Belt at 2,336 kilometers with a potential error of +/- 12 kilometers, and ends a decade-long debate over which object is larger.   The size data also helped to reveal that (2)>> Pluto's atmosphere is shallower than scientists expected.It’s been difficult to measure Pluto’s size because it has an atmosphere that acts as a mirage, blurring the boundaries of just how big the dwarf planet is.The early detection of nitrogen could mean anything from the source being stronger than we thought to the atmosphere being stripped from the dwarf planet more rapidly than it was  modelled. It could also means something more exotic, like a yet-to-be-determined process concentrating the escaped gas and our probe just coincidentally intercepting the stream. Distinguishing between the options is going to take a lot more data, during which we’ll also be learning what else is in Pluto’s atmosphere, and if Charon and Pluto actually share an atmosphere within their odd little system.   The cheering and jubilation are phenomenal. There's a powerful sense of achievement at sending a robotic craft three billion miles to Pluto. But there's also something much more instinctive: the thrill of witnessing and sharing a great moment of discovery.Most moving for me has been catching a few words with the son of the man who first found Pluto. Al Tombaugh is obviously delighted that a sample of his father Clyde's ashes is on board New Horizons, speeding past Pluto and now heading into the unexplored realm of the Kuiper Belt. It's going to get more exciting until all the
Charon , Pluto's largest moon . Amazing !
data come through . Remember Pluto has more than ( for now ) 5 known moons , 
 they are CharonStyx,NixKerberos, and Hydra. Charon, the largest of the five moons, is mutually tidally locked with Pluto, and is massive enough that Pluto–Charon is sometimes considered a double dwarf planet. Charon is about half the diameter of Pluto and is so massive (nearly one eighth of the mass of Pluto) that the system's barycenter lies between them, approximately 960 km above Pluto's surface.[5][a] Charon and Pluto are also tidally locked, so that they always present the same face toward each other. The IAU General Assembly in August 2006 considered a proposal that Pluto and Charon be reclassified as a double planet, but the proposal was abandoned. 
Pluto's Texas-size moon Charon is coming into sharper focus as NASA's New Horizons probe closes in for a dramatic flyby Tuesday, revealing apparent impact craters, huge chasms longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon and an unusual dark polar cap.The spacecraft will also be gathering information on its smaller moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.

PLUTO is a PLANET , But......

I am sorry to all those who demoted Pluto in 2005 . I still consider Pluto a "planet" by definition , and I hate to use the term "dwarf planet" . There is something dork-ish about saying that word dwarf planet . Pluto is pretty big by standards . This Pluto matter is a question not of fact but of classification — and classifications can be fluid. Pluto meets some of the properties of planets; it doesn’t quite match up with others. Pluto is almost as big as our moon . Earth's moon although it orbit's our planet is a planet as well . In scientific and astronomical views these would be minor planets . It will never fit the criteria . Which means this is a perfect time for Pluto reclassification . Pluto also orbits the sun within a fairly crowded band of debris called the Kuiper belt, rather than as a relatively isolated object in space. If Pluto had been discovered along with the others rather than 60 years earlier, there can be little doubt that no one would have called it a planet in the first place. There is nothing special about Pluto, other than the accident of having been the first to be discovered. These two events will make 2015 an exciting year for solar system exploration and discovery. But there is much more to this story than mere science. I expect 2015 will be the year when general consensus, built upon our new knowledge of these two objects, will return Pluto and add Ceres to our family of solar system planets.

("I hope Pluto is called a planet again") as fact ("Pluto will probably

become a planet")."

(1)>> When the New Horizons spacecraft launched in 2006, scientists had no idea what it would find when it arrived at Pluto nine years later. *** New Horizons' call home after the flyby is due at 00:53 GMT Wednesday (01:53 BST). It will come through a giant dish in Madrid, Spain - part of Nasa's Deep Space Network of communications antennas.This signal will contain only engineering information on the status of the probe, but controllers should be able to tell very quickly whether the flyby sequence worked properly or not.There is a very small possibility that New Horizons could be lost as it flies through the Pluto system.Any stray icy debris would have been lethal if it had collided with the spacecraft at its 14km/s velocity (31,000mph).(2)>> Pluto's atmosphere is roughly 90% Nitrogen, and 10% other complex molecules such as methane. The composition of Pluto's atmosphere is very similar to the Earth's which is also 80% Nitrogen.The complex molecules probably come from radiation, which forces new molecules to be created from the surface of Pluto.Pluto's interior is primarily composed of water ice of different phases. The drawing shows a possible layout of the different phases of ice in Titan's interior. Titan is a moon of Saturn. In this respect, Pluto is very much like other icy moons.Deep inside Pluto are to be found the more heavier, rocky elements such as silicates. These form the core of Pluto. (3)>>ERIS,  (minor-planet designation 136199 Eris) is the most massive dwarf planet known in the Solar System, and the ninth most massive body known to directly orbit the Sun. It was measured to be 2,326 ± 12 kilometers (1,445.3 ± 7.5 mi) in diameter. They weren't really "re-classified", because as strange as it may sound, a formal definition for "planet" didn't exist ten years ago.  It wasn't until Eris was discovered in 2005 that the people who handle standardizing definitions in astronomy were faced with the question of whether or not Eris (and therefore Pluto, because Eris is larger in mass) is a planet.  Before that, there were no classes of planets like there are classes of stars (brown dwarf star, red giant star..) Pluto is larger than Eris, and is therefore the largest known object in the Kuiper belt by diameter. Eris lacks an atmosphere so we have very precise measurements of its diameter from stellar occultations: 2336 +/- 12 km.

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