Pluto is one of the most famous objects in our solar system. It attracted a lot of attention after it lost its planet status in the mid-2000s. Since then, numerous discoveries have been made about Pluto, providing answers to questions that people hadn’t yet asked. Here’s 20 interesting facts about Pluto for you to discover…
Pluto is a dwarf planet. It is one of the two largest dwarf planets in the galaxy along with Eris.
Pluto has a diameter of 2,300 km. That is roughly two thirds the diameter of the Moon.
The dwarf planet’s mass is 1.3x1022kg. That is also just 1/6th the mass of our moon.
Pluto is located in the Kuiper Belt. This is an area of space beyond Neptune’s orbit that is littered with hundreds of thousands of rocky and icy bodies.
Most of the dwarf planet’s surface is covered in methane and nitrogen ice.
The surface of Pluto can reach -225 degrees Celsius. This makes it one of the coldest places in the solar system.
Scientists cannot determine definitively whether or not Pluto has a magnetic field. But the consensus is that it does not have one. This is because it is so small and it has a slow rotation.
The Dwarf Planet is 5,900,000,000 km from the Sun.
It has five moons, namely: Hydra, Charon, Kerberos, Styx, and Nix. Charon is the largest of these moons. It is just 19,000 km from Pluto. It is almost half the size of the dwarf planet.
Sometimes, the dwarf planet comes so close to the Sun that the ice of its surface melts, rising to become a gaseous atmosphere. When Pluto moves away from the Sun, the atmosphere freezes, descending to the dwarf planet’s surface once more.
Historical Pluto facts
Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. He noticed disturbances in Uranus and Neptune’s orbits. His attempts to identify the cause revealed a faint spot that was later found to be Pluto.
In 2006, Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet after the newly cemented definitions of a planet determined that Pluto did not meet the criteria that had been set forth.
Pluto is the god of the Underworld, the Roman version of Hades from Greece. The planet was named after him.
An 11-year-old girl from Oxford in England called Venetia Burney proposed the name. It was accepted.
More than a dozen images of Pluto had been captured before 1930. Some of them go as far back as 1909. However, no one realized what they were looking at before Tombaugh made his discovery.
Interesting Pluto facts
Pluto has the 2nd slowest rotation in the solar system, taking 6 days to spin just once. It only loses out to Venus which requires 243 days.
On Pluto, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east. This is because it spins in the opposite direction of the Earth.
Light from the Sun reaches the Earth in eight minutes. But it reaches Pluto in five hours.
NASA’s New Horizons probe was launched in 2006. It reached Pluto in 2015, flying near the planet and taking high-resolution pictures that were finally downloaded on Earth in 2016.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Pluto you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below!