pluto and the kuiper belt

 

The Discovery of Pluto, The Kuiper Belt and Understanding the Universe (Fall 2017)

The Kuiper Belt and the bodies orbiting within it, such as Pluto and other “dwarf planets” have been researched but have not been shared with the public as common knowledge to people outside the astronomy field. Our mission much like New Horizons’ mission (to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt) is to demonstrate that the continuous reassessment of existing scientific knowledge is crucial when considering the progression of the universe and how we see it. For example, the discovery of Pluto has led astronomers to research the region of which Pluto belongs to, leading us to our awareness of the Kuiper Belt itself. The importance of studying the Kuiper Belt is being able to investigate all of its objects and to learn more about our universe. When Pluto was discovered in the 1930’s and recalled as a planet in 2006, the discovery of the fulfilled space past Neptune that includes “Dwarf” planets like Pluto, as well as many other identifiable objects, is known as the Kuiper Belt. Our main question that we seek to answer is “What do astronomers know about the Kuiper Belt as well as the objects that belong to it, what methods did they use to discover these objects, and why? ”

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Courtesy of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto and the New Horizons mission (Spring 2017)

Discovered in 1930 by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto was considered by many to be the final planet in our solar system. That changed in 2006 following the reclassification of the term “planet” by the International Astronomical Union. With the discoveries of Ceres, Haumea, Makemake and Eris, the IAU reconsidered Pluto’s planetary status as Pluto had more similarities and qualities to these objects than to other planets in the solar system. Through the Dawn Mission, scientists were able to observe what are now known as dwarf planets and re-evaluate their classifications as they understood the universe in more depth. In 2015, the New Horizons mission successfully completed it’s mission to Pluto and several important discoveries were made as a result of it’s historic flyby.

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Courtesy of Space Facts/Laurine Moreau

Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (Winter 2017)

Pluto’s discovery in 1930 by Clyde W. Tombaugh brought about a revolutionary shift in the way astronomers viewed our solar system. For nearly a century afterwards, Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet in our solar system. However, with the discovery of QB1 in 1992, as well as Sedna, and then Eris in 2005, scientists were forced to re-evaluate their position in regards to Pluto’s planetary status.

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Courtesy of engadget

How Does Position Affect Geology? (Fall 2016)

The goal of the study was to compare and contrast the geological features between Mercury and Pluto. These two bodies were chosen due to their extreme orbital radius differences in relation to the sun, with their overall size being quite similar. The data for this study was obtained by focusing on two particular satellite missions: MESSENGER, which explored Mercury, and New Horizon, which explored Pluto. Through this data the geological similarities and differences were compared.

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Courtesy of Christopher Altrogge

Out-Of-This-World Teaching Strategies (Winter 2016)

This page is a resource designed for teachers who are looking for fun and easy ways to present the science of astronomy and the solar system to students.

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Courtesy of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (Winter 2016)

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) passed two resolutions that resonated strongly with the public and had an immediate impact on elementary school curricula. The first was a change in the definition of what it means for an object in our Solar System to be a “planet”. The second introduced and defined the term “dwarf planets”. The notorious revision of these definitions stripped Pluto of its planetary status and took the world by storm. It is important to understand why the definition of a planet had to be changed and why Pluto, despite being reclassified, is still essential to our understanding of our solar system.

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