Pluto, once believed to be the ninth planet, was discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.
Pluto is considered as the largest dwarf planet in our solar system. Moreover, it’s one of the members of the Kuiper Belt, which is basically a secluded, shadowy zone behind the orbit of Neptune. According to experts, the Kuiper Belt is covered with uncountable rocky forms, each bigger than 62 miles across along with over 1 trillion comets.
In around 2006, Pluto was reclassified or ‘demoted’ mainly because it didn’t fit in the criteria of a planet. Pluto’s status provoked various debates in the scientific community.
What precisely is a dwarf planet?
According to the International Astronomical Union, a dwarf planet is an astronomical body that circles the sun, has sufficient mass to appear ’round’, has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit and is not a moon.
Here are ten fascinating things you need to know about pluto:
1) Pluto was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet:
According to International Astronomical Union (IAU), a planet is a celestial body that is in orbit around the Sun and has sufficient mass for its self-gravity. Since pluto is quite far from the sun, it was reclassified in 2006. Moreover, it did not fit in the overall given criteria.
2) Pluto was discovered in 1930:
Pluto, once believed to be the ninth planet, was discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh.
3) Pluto has five known moons:
Quite a few planets in our solar system have more than one moon. Pluto is one of those fortunate planets. Its moons are called Charon, Hydra, Nix, Kerberos, and Styx.
4) Pluto is known as the largest dwarf planet in our solar system:
Scientists and experts once considered Eris to be the largest dwarf planet of our solar system, but their calculations and observations were inaccurate. The most accurate measurements give Eris an average diameter of 2,326km with a margin of error of 12km, while Pluto’s diameter is 2,372km with a 2km margin of error.
5) Pluto has an abundance of water:
The water on Pluto is in the form of ice, which is more than three times as much water as in all the Earth’s oceans. Furthermore, the rest of the planet is made up of sharp-edged rocks. Pluto’s surface is covered with ice and has numerous mountains, shaded areas, and a scattering of craters.
6) Pluto is smaller than the moons of other significant planets:
Pluto is quite smaller than Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Europa, Triton, and the Earth’s moon. It approximately has 66% of the diameter of the Earth’s moon and around 18% of its mass.
7) Pluto has an unusual and tilted orbit:
Due to its unusual orbit, it is approximately 7.3 billion km far from the Sun.
8) New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto:
The New Horizons spacecraft, which was launched in 2006, flew by Pluto and captured a series of photographs. New Horizons is now on its way to the Kuiper Belt to explore even more remote objects.
9) Pluto’s location was calculated by Percival Lowell:
Lowell’s predictions and calculations came from statistics that were taken from the orbits of Uranus and Neptune.
10) Pluto has an atmosphere:
When Pluto’s oval-shaped orbit takes it closer to the Sun, its surface, which is made up of ice, forms a weak atmosphere primarily of nitrogen. Moreover, it has a methane mist that hovers about 161 kilometres above the surface. When Pluto moves away from the Sun, its atmosphere freezes back to its original state.
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