Sunday December 17th 2017

Fifth Moon Discovered Orbiting Pluto

Free News Press – Scientists have discovered a fifth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The moon is small, estimated to be only six to 16 miles in diameter.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers were able to see five moons circling the planet in a co-planar orbit. So far, it appears that all of the planets share the same plane around Pluto.

Pluto is so far from the sun and so tiny, only one sixth the size of Earth’s moon, its planetary status was revoked. Once considered the ninth planet, Pluto is now called a dwarf planet; the 10th largest object orbiting the sun. Its orbit sometimes brings it closer to the sun than Neptune.

NASA scientists are calling this moon P5. “The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said Mark Showalter, the team leader of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The scientists were surprised to find so many moons orbiting Pluto. It is believed that Pluto, along with other dwarf planets, were created when Pluto collided with other objects in the Kuiper belt billions of years ago.

NASA has taken a special interest in the Pluto system because they hope to safely navigate their New Horizons spacecraft through the collection of objects circling the planet. The New Horizons craft will fly near Pluto in 2015.

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