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 are some fun facts about Pluto for you to discover…
1. Pluto is tiny!
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.
2. Pluto is seriously chilly.
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.
3. Honestly – Pluto gets COLD.
The surface of Pluto can reach -225 degrees Celsius. This makes it one of the coldest places in the solar system.
4. Is Pluto attractive?
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.
5. It’s a long way to Pluto.
The Dwarf Planet is 5,900,000,000 km from the Sun.
6. Pluto has neighbors.
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.
7. A year on Pluto is a quarter of an Earth millennium.
It takes Pluto 246 Earth years to orbit the Sun.
8. Pluto can melt!
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.
9. We’ve only known about Pluto since the 1930s.
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.
10. Pluto got downgraded.
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.
11. Pluto has an important name.
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.
12. Pluto debuted long before it was discovered.
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.
13. Pluto is a sloooow spinner.
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.
14. Pluto runs opposite to Earth.
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.
15. Pluto is a long way from light.
Light from the Sun reaches the Earth in eight minutes. But it reaches Pluto in five hours.
16. We’re still exploring Pluto.
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.
FAQs about Pluto
Could Pluto sustain life?
It’s possible, but it wouldn’t be life as we know it. It’d be an alien life form that thrives without sunlight, and would live in oceans within the planet itself.
Was Pluto destroyed?
No - only in the realms of science fiction! It was simply downgraded from being a planet to a dwarf.
Could a human land on Pluto?
Providing they were wearing an adequate space suit, yes! However, we’d likely freeze overnight - and even then, it’d take us around 680 Earth years to reach Pluto in the first place!
Do you know any interesting or fun facts about Pluto? Share them in the comments below!
Do you like learning about the planets of our solar system? Check out these amazing facts about Mercury!