Thursday, July 16, 2015
JULY 16 CAN WE MAKE PLUTO A PLANET AGAIN?
This week, Houston does NOT have a problem! After a slew of failures, including a failed launch and a fantastic atmospheric explosion, astronomers at NASA have a reason to cheer. The fastest spacecraft EVER, the New Horizons probe, reached Pluto and sent back images to Earth. For the first time, Earthlings can view the numerous canyons, valleys, mountains and craters on the distant celestial body. Even STEPHEN HAWKING is excited, tweeting: "We explore because we are humans and long to know." Nice work, NASA!
However, the most important discovery about Pluto isn't about terrain. Nope, we here at the DUNER BLOG are excited about the measurements of the planet's Equator. The probe indicates it is 1,470 miles across; quite a bit larger than previously thought. The total surface are is also bigger. At 1107 kilometers, it's slightly larger than Russia. We are also learning that Pluto's atmosphere is much thicker than previously thought, rich in possible nitrates.
Sigh. Even with the new findings, Pluto is still smaller than Eris. Nonetheless, New Horizons has re-opened this debate. The more we learn about Pluto, the more important Pluto becomes. Eris might be larger... But does it have any moons? Pluto has five: Styx, Nix, Kerberos, Charon & Hydra. (Cool names too!) It's got gravity, a defined orbit and isn't located in some silly Asteroid Belt like Eris. C'mon, people! Let get Pluto back in the planetary club!