New observations of Pluto’s moons reveal a system in pandemonium, according to scientists with the New Horizons mission.
If ever a spacecraft had the right to turn around and come home, it’s NASA‘s little New Horizons ship. Launched on Jan. 19, 2006, it was dispatched on a mission no other ship had ever dared attempt — fly out and reconnoiter Pluto, the most distant and mysterious planet in the solar system. Little more than seven months later, however — on Aug. 14, 2006 — word came down from the International Astronomical Union that, oops!, Pluto isn’t a planet after all. It’s a dwarf planet or a minor planet or a planetoid, or, most insultingly, a plutoid. But whatever you want to call it, it had been summarily busted down from one of the sun’s little princelings to a mere pretender — nothing more than a refugee from the Kuiper belt, the band of comets and other rocky, icy debris that circles the solar system. And for…
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With the news today that Pluto is finally going to be photographed, the outer rim of the solar system is receiving a lot more attention than it normally does. Not since Pluto was dropped from the list of planets has it received so much coverage. As part of the segue to the weather report on CBC Newsworld this morning they even gave out the temperature on Pluto (v. cold).