Pluto

Pluto is a dwarf planet located in the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond the orbit of Neptune that contains many small, icy objects. It was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh and was considered the ninth planet in our Solar System until 2006 when it was reclassified as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Characteristics

Pluto is a relatively small object, with a diameter of approximately 2,377 kilometers (1,477 miles). It has a highly elliptical orbit that takes it from 4.4 billion kilometers (2.7 billion miles) from the Sun at its furthest point, to just 4.4 billion kilometers (2.7 billion miles) away at its closest point. Pluto has five known moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx.

Composition

Pluto is composed primarily of rock and ice, with a surface that is covered in frozen nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide. It also has a thin atmosphere that is mostly made up of nitrogen, with small amounts of methane and carbon monoxide.

Exploration

Pluto was first explored by the New Horizons spacecraft, which launched in 2006 and reached Pluto in July 2015. The spacecraft conducted a flyby of Pluto and its moons, collecting data and images of the surface and atmosphere. The mission revealed that Pluto is a complex and dynamic world, with a wide variety of surface features such as mountains, plains, and valleys.

Pluto’s Status

Pluto’s status as a planet has been the subject of debate among astronomers for many years. In 2006, the IAU reclassified Pluto as a “dwarf planet,” which is defined as an object that orbits the Sun, is not a satellite of another planet, and has not cleared its orbit of debris. This means that Pluto is no longer considered a “full-fledged” planet like Earth or Jupiter, but is instead part of a new category of objects in our Solar System.

 

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