Pluto is 4.67 billion miles away from Earth. At a certain condition, the two celestial bodies are only 2.66 billion miles apart. NASA sent the New Horizons spacecraft on a mission to visit Pluto, and it is expected to reach the Pluto-Charon system 11 years after its take-off on Jan. 19, 2006.Know More
The distances between planets in the solar system vary constantly because they travel in elliptical orbits rather than perfect circles. The heavenly bodies are in constant motion, which is why they are not always in preferred positions at the time of a mission launch. This factor causes delay to reach a target destination.
Probes sent by scientists to learn more about celestial bodies need a lot of help during space travel. Satellites frequently require fuel-less acceleration, therefore they use the gravity of planets, moons and even the sun. The New Horizons mission, only the fifth probe to cross interplanetary space, is trying to surpass what the Voyager and Pioneer accomplished. The spacecraft already passed by Mars and received gravity assistance from Jupiter on its way to Pluto. Its closest approach to the dwarf planet is expected to occur at 7:49:59 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2015, based on NASA's calculation.Learn more about Planets
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.Full Answer >
Pluto and its moon, Charon, came to be after a massive collision between two icy objects whose total mass was 30 percent larger than the current mass of Pluto, according to an article by Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics. Charon and Pluto were much closer to each other immediately after the incident, but Charon pulled away over a period of 1 to 10 million years.Full Answer >
The planet Pluto is named after Pluto, the god of the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology. The name was suggested by a young girl, Venetia Burney Phair, in 1930 when she heard the news that a new planet had been discovered in the solar system.Full Answer >
Pluto is only slightly over 1400 miles wide, about half the width of the continental United States. From its discovery in 1930 until 2006, Pluto was the ninth planet of the solar system, but in 2006, it was demoted to dwarf planet status.Full Answer >