[VIDEO] Pluto Is Larger Than Thought, Has Ice Cap, NASA Probe RevealsPosted: July 14, 2015
LAUREL, Md. — Nola Taylor Redd reports: With less than 24 hours to go before NASA’s New Horizons probe makes its close flyby of Pluto, scientists are already learning more about the dwarf planet than ever before, including the fact that it is bigger than previously thought.
New Horizons’ latest views of Pluto have shown the dwarf planet to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) across, making it the largest body in the icy Kuiper Belt at the edge of the solar system. The observations also confirmed the presence of a polar ice cap on Pluto, and measured three of the dwarf planet’s moons.
“Pluto is not disappointing,” said principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, during a NASA briefing here today (July 13).
As New Horizons closes in, the spacecraft made the most precise measurements to date of Pluto’s size using methods similar to those employed by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. The new diameter of the dwarf planet makes it larger than fellow Kuiper Belt denizen Eris, which is 1,445 miles (2,326 km) in diameter.
Previous estimates for the size of Pluto had put its radius at 1,430 miles (2,301 km). But Pluto now stands as the undisputed king of the Kuiper Belt.
“This settles the debate about the largest object in the Kuiper Belt,” Stern said.
With Pluto’s mass already known, the larger radius means that the dwarf planet is less dense than previously estimated, suggesting the possibility of an icier interior, though Stern stressed this was still under investigation…(read more)
- Pluto is king of the Kuiper Belt (abc.net.au)
- Nasa goes the distance to explore Pluto (irishexaminer.com)
- Spotted face of distant Pluto coming into focus (dailymail.co.uk)
- Pluto Is Larger Than Thought, Has Ice Cap, NASA Probe Reveals (space.com)
- NASA shows Pluto and its moon Charon from 6M kilometers away in this photo (venturebeat.com)
- Spotted face of distant Pluto coming into focus (smh.com.au)
- New Horizon’s probe on track for Pluto flyby (ibtimes.co.uk)
- Spotted face of distant Pluto coming into focus (theage.com.au)