Hubble Discovers A Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Airborne On ANN

Airborne 02.08.16

Airborne 02.09.16

Airborne 02.10.16

Airborne 02.11.16

Airborne 02.12.16

Airborne Hi-Def On YouTube

Airborne 02.08.16

Airborne 02.09.16

Airborne 02.10.16

Airborne 02.11.16

Airborne 02.12.16

Sun, Jul 15, 2012

Hubble Discovers A Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

Will Assist In Navigation Of New Horizons Spacecraft Through The Dwarf Planet's Orbit

A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system. “The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA.
 
The discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five.
 
The Pluto team is intrigued that such a small planet can have such a complex collection of satellites. The new discovery provides additional clues for unraveling how the Pluto system formed and evolved. The favored theory is that all the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper belt object billions of years ago. The new detection will help scientists navigate NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft through the Pluto system in 2015, when it makes an historic and long-awaited high-speed flyby of the distant world.
 
The team is using Hubble’s powerful vision to scour the Pluto system to uncover potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft. Moving past the dwarf planet at a speed of 30,000 miles per hour, New Horizons could be destroyed in a collision with even a BB-shot-size piece of orbital debris. “The discovery of so many small moons indirectly tells us that there must be lots of small particles lurking unseen in the Pluto system,” said Harold Weaver of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD. “The inventory of the Pluto system we're taking now with Hubble will help the New Horizons team design a safer trajectory for the spacecraft,” added Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., the mission’s principal investigator.

Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, was discovered in 1978 in observations made at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Hubble observations in 2006 uncovered two additional small moons, Nix and Hydra. In 2011 another moon, P4, was found in Hubble data.
 
Provisionally designated S/2012 (134340) 1, the latest moon was detected in nine separate sets of images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on June 26, 27, 29, and July 7 and 9.
 
In the years following the New Horizons Pluto flyby, astronomers plan to use the infrared vision of Hubble’s planned successor, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, for follow-up observations. The Webb telescope will be able to measure the surface chemistry of Pluto, its moons, and many other bodies that lie in the distant Kuiper Belt along with Pluto.

(Images provided by NASA)

FMI: www.nasa.gov

Advertisement

More News

House Science Committee Approves Aviation R&D Bill

Authorizes Funding For The FAA's Research, Engineering, And Development Account Through 2019 The Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Thursday approved the FAA Leadership in>[...]

Airborne 02.12.16: NEW Mooney!, Not-So-Good GAMA Stats, DA40 Upgrades

Also: A350-1000 Final Assembly, Barnstorming: ATC Privatization, Lithium Issue, Boeing Cuts, Tillamook C-27, Sywell Aerodrome, Massive Airship Mooney International Corporation unve>[...]

Airborne 02.11.16: Drone #s Increase, Fokker D. VIII Replica, Gulfstream G500

Also: Albania Auction, Aero-Community: AEA!, 500 F-35 Hours, SeaPort Airlines, Maxcraft Avionics, Air Power Museum, Webb Space Telescope FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a UAV>[...]

Airborne 02.12.16: NEW Mooney!, Not-So-Good GAMA Stats, DA40 Upgrades

Also: A350-1000 Final Assembly, Barnstorming: ATC Privatization, Lithium Issue, Boeing Cuts, Tillamook C-27, Sywell Aerodrome, Massive Airship Mooney International Corporation unve>[...]

ANN FAQ: View Aero-News YOUR Way ... The 'Headlines And Teasers' Option

Choose How YOU Want To View Your Aero News: Headlines And Teasers We're all pretty excited about the new website design here at ANN, but we HAVE heard from some of you that you lik>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2016 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC