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Solar System

Pluto

Kuiper Belt Objects, KBOs, Horizons spacecraft, International Astronomical Union, Roman mythology

Deeper web pages:

>  Observation from Earth

>  Origin of Pluto

>  Classification of Pluto

Pluto, planetary body counted as the ninth planet in the solar system after its discovery in 1930. In 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet. The new IAU definition of a planet that changed Pluto's status is not accepted by some scientists, who continue to recognize Pluto as the ninth planet. Pluto revolves about the Sun once in 247.9 Earth years at an average distance of 5,880 million km (3,650 million mi). Pluto’s orbit is so eccentric that at certain points along its path Pluto is slightly closer to the Sun than is Neptune. Pluto is about 2,360 km (1,475 mi) in diameter, about two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon. Its composition links Pluto with Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), icy bodies found beyond Neptune in the outer solar system. The first space mission to explore Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, was launched in January 2006 and is scheduled to fly by Pluto in 2015. Pluto was named after the god of the underworld in Roman mythology.

Contributors

Stern, S. Alan, B.A., B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

Director, Department of Space Studies, Southwest Research Institute.



Article key phrases:

Kuiper Belt Objects, KBOs, Horizons spacecraft, International Astronomical Union, Roman mythology, dwarf planet, outer solar system, space mission, size of Earth, underworld, Neptune, orbit, NASA, moon, discovery, god, diameter, scientists, Sun, status, January

 
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