Pluto is no longer a planet!
- Astronomers had long predicted the existence of a ninth planet; then Pluto was discovered and was accorded the status.
- Eventually, scientists found that there are other icy objects orbiting the sun which have the same composition as Pluto.
- In 2005, an icy object larger than Pluto in size was discovered and questions were raised.
- In 2006, Pluto was finally termed as a "dwarf planet".
New Horizons space probe is launched!
19 Jan 2006
- NASA launched New Horizons, an interplanetary space probe to study Pluto, its moons and other Kuiper belt objects on 19 Jan 2006.
- It escaped a close encounter with an asteroid, after which it flew past Jupiter at a distance of 2.3 million kilometers.
- It began its approach to Pluto on 25 Jan 2015 and was expected to fly by Pluto on 14 July.
New Horizons probe: highest launch speed record holder!
New Horizons which was launched at a speed of 16.26 km per sec (58,536 km/hr; 36,373 mph) had set a record for the highest launch speed of a human-made object from earth's surface.
What exactly can the New Horizons probe find out?
- The probe which is equipped with optical, ultraviolet and infrared imaging tools will look for rings and more moons around Pluto which were not discovered earlier.
- Neptune's moon Triton and Pluto are considered to be icy siblings and some ice volcanoes were found on Tritons. So, the probe will look for those on Pluto.
- It will also try to locate snow on Pluto's surface.
Pluto may make a comeback as a 'planet'
25 Feb 2015
- New Horizon's principle investigator Alen Stern was hopeful that the probe's discoveries might help Pluto regain its status as a planet.
- Stern said, "The decision about how to define a planet should have been left up to the planetary scientists, not astronomers."
- Pluto's planetary status was snatched away in 2006 by International Astronomical Union (IAU).
New Horizons probe sends new pictures of Pluto
11 Jul 2015
- NASA's probe New Horizons has sent a new image of the dwarf planet to reveal some of its geology to the scientists.
- The picture which was taken from a distance of 5.4 million km and whose resolution was 27km per pixel, shows a vast band of patterned terrain stretching around the globe for roughly 1,500km.
- The probe will fly-by Pluto's surface on 14 July.