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calendar   Tuesday - July 14, 2015

Still looks like a planet to me

NASA Completes 9 Year Fly-By On Pluto

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Ah, Pluto! We humans may no longer recognize you as a full planetary member of our solar system, but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited about having your close-up picture.

And on Tuesday, we got it, thanks to the New Horizons spacecraft launched 10 years ago that is coming closer to the distant dwarf planet than anyone has ever been: 8,150 miles. That may not sound like it’s very close, but when you live 3.6 billion miles apart (roughly), that’s practically a fist-bump.

Needless to say, NASA scientists are really excited, posting this image of Pluto.

In the caption, they added, “This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface.”

Pluto has been reclassified to dwarf planet or planetoid status. That’s unfortunate. I’m not sure who sets these rules. Probably the same wankers who screwed up brontosaurus and eohippus. But one of the major takes from this 9 year endeavor, started back in the days of yore when NASA was still in the rocket science game, was to find the size of the little fellow and his even smaller satellite Charon. And here is everyone all together to scale (apologies for my rough graphical work):

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Recent measurements obtained by New Horizons indicate that Pluto has a diameter of 2370 km, 18.5% that of Earth’s, while Charon has a diameter of 1208 km, 9.5% that of Earth’s. As a relative reference, the diameter of the Moon is 3,474 km, and the diameter of the Earth is 12,742 km. This means that the Moon is approximately 27% the size of the Earth, and that Pluto is close to 2/3 the diameter of the moon. Charon comes up short, being just more than 1/3 the diameter of the moon, and less than 1/10 the diameter of the Earth. The smallest “official” planet is Mercury, coming in at a “gigantic” 4,880km diameter, about 40% larger than our Moon, and a touch more than 1/3 the size of our Earth. Still trying to figure out where the line is between planet and dwarf planet? Don’t bother. Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is 5268km across, 8% bigger than Mercury. I give up. I’m going to go pet my Dawn Horse now.

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https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-new-horizons-a-heart-from-pluto-as-flyby-begins


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/14/2015 at 06:10 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and Discoveries •  
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