pluto and the kuiper belt
New Horizons Mission to Pluto and Charon (Spring 2018)
The New Horizons satellite was launched in January 2006 for a decade long mission to observe the dwarf planet Pluto (Fig. 1), its moon Charon (Fig. 1) and the Kuiper Belt Objects. It made its flyby of Pluto in 2015 and will continue its secondary mission of observing and studying other Kuiper Belt Objects for the next decade. The New Horizons was able to provide new discoveries and confirm predictions made about Pluto and its dwarf twin satellite Charon. With the use of the right instrumentation, the New Horizons mission has revealed that Pluto, along with its moon Charon, has a surprisingly complex geology with a unique atmosphere and climate.
The New Horizons satellite mission is providing information that is relevant and important to share with the public. It was believed that Pluto was a cold, dead dwarf planet, but this theory is far from true. Pluto has an active and diverse geology as does Charon. Pluto’s blue atmosphere is fascinating scientists with multiple haze layers different from what has been seen before. Although Charon may have little to no atmosphere, its gravity may be pulling in gases escaping from Pluto. The data collected will challenge the general public’s perception of Pluto, Charon, and other Kuiper Belt Objects. Sharing the new findings and discoveries of the New Horizons with the general public will help people better understand the far reaches of our solar system.
Uncovering Pluto and Beyond (Winter 2018)
Pluto was part of our Planet Family for a long time, as the 9th planet in our Solar System since its discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. However nearly eight decades later in 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf Planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). One of the reasons for this is that it does not meet the criteria, specifically “clearing its own neighbourhood.” This means that Pluto has become gravitationally dormant; there are no other bodies under its gravitational influence other than its own satellites. Pluto is now considered to be just one of many Dwarf Planets found in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is a large region of asteroids and other debris in the shape of a ring outside the radius of Neptune’s orbit. Pluto is one of the largest Dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. This paper will discuss all the findings on Pluto, and the technological advances that brought about these findings. This paper will also unpack NASA’s New Horizons Missions, its instruments and new discoveries.
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? ”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.