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What are some interesting facts about Pluto?

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Quick Answer

Pluto is a dwarf planet in the area of the Kuiper belt, which is an area with many dwarf planets, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The dwarf planet is after Neptune in the planetary alignment, and it is the former ninth planet until reclassification in 2006, clarifies the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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Pluto is an icy planet with a solid core, explains NASA. Instead of a water-based ice, the frozen surface is primarily formed of methane and nitrogen. The mantle of Pluto, however, forms from ice made of water. Some of the surface ice melts when Pluto orbits close to the sun, releasing the methane and nitrogen into the air to create a temporary atmosphere. Once Pluto moves away from the sun, the gases refreeze. Pluto’s elliptical orbit places the dwarf planet on an incline as it orbits through the solar system. Pluto’s mass is relatively small to the planets in the solar system. It also has a low point of gravity. Pluto has five moons that orbit the planet.

It takes 248 Earth years for Pluto to make one revolution around the sun. Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, takes more than six days to orbit once around Pluto. Charon is roughly half the size of Pluto.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Is Pluto still considered a planet in our solar system?

    A:

    In 2006, the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto was not a planet in the Earth's solar system. Pluto was named a dwarf planet after a discovery of a similar-sized object deeper in the Kuiper belt, which was later named Eris.

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  • Q:

    What is the weather like on Pluto?

    A:

    When Pluto is closest to the sun, the frozen nitrogen on its surface sublimates, meaning it turns into gas, to provide a thin atmosphere. When Pluto is farthest away from the sun, the nitrogen in its thin atmosphere refreezes and falls as snow. Temperatures can range from -378 to -396 degrees Fahrenheit.

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  • Q:

    How many rings does Pluto have?

    A:

    There is no concrete proof that Pluto has rings. NASA scientists think the dwarf planet may have rings, but until observation of the far away planet begins in 2015, scientists can only speculate.

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  • Q:

    Why is Pluto so small?

    A:

    Pluto is small because it has a very low force of gravity, caused by its low density at 2.03 g/cm³. Its density is almost half of Mercury's, the smallest of the eight planets in the solar system. Its gravitational force is only 5 percent of Earth's.

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