A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BRIEF NOTE] Pluto has three moons, now

From Space.com:

Two small moons have been discovered orbiting Pluto, bringing the planet’s retinue of known satellites to three and leaving scientist to wonder how it could be.

The newfound moons orbit about 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers) from Pluto, more than twice as far as Charon, Pluto’s other satellite. They are 5,000 times dimmer than Charon.

Preliminary observations suggest they are in circular orbits around Pluto and in the same plane as Charon, said Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

“That suggests they probably formed at the same time as Charon,” Weaver told SPACE.com in a telephone interview Friday. NASA planned a teleconference with reporters Monday at 1 p.m. ET to announce the discovery.

While scientists had predicted there might be more moons, the newfound setup is surprising nonetheless, in part because Pluto is smaller than our own Moon.

“It’s almost like a mini solar system,” Weaver said. “How can something about 70 percent the size of Earth’s Moon have all these satellites? How can that happen? We’re going to have to explain that.”

It goes without saying that this is very cool, of course.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 31, 2005 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Assorted

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