Pluto is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt region of our solar system. The Kuiper belt is a disc of astronomical bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Pluto is the largest object in the Kuiper belt and it was discovered in 1930. At first, it was declared as the ninth planet in the solar system. But, later when similar bodies were discovered in the Kuiper belt then the existence of Pluto as an independent planet was Questioned.
Later on, in 2006, The International Astronomical Union defined the term “planet” for the first time. Then Pluto was classified as a dwarf planet.
After the eight planets, Pluto is the ninth largest and tenth massive astronomical body orbiting around the sun. The ninth massive body is Eirs which is also a dwarf planet.
Pluto is mainly composed of ice and rock and is roughly 1/6 of Earth’s moon. It is 30 to 49 AU (astronomical unit) in distance from the sun. It is 1/3 of the Moon by volume. In its orbit periodically Pluto comes closer to the sun than Neptune. Being at an average distance of 39.5 AU the light takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes to reach Pluto.
Pluto is 17.7% of the total mass of the Moon which is equal to 0.22% of Earth’s mass. The surface area is 1.779×107 km2. The atmosphere of Pluto consists of carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen. The surface pressure of Pluto is 1 Pa. The atmospheric temperature of Pluto is warmer than its surface.
Moons Of Planet Pluto
There are five satellites of Pluto. These moons are Kerberos, Hydra, Nix, Charon, and Styx. The closest of these five moons is Charon. James Christy first identified Charon in 1978. The two moons Hydra and Nix, discovered in 2005, and in 2011 Astronomers discovered Kerberos. Then, in 2012 they discovered Styx.
Pluto, the largest discovered object in the Kuiper belt, and is slightly smaller than Neptune’s moon Triton. One cannot see Pluto with a naked eye and a telescope of 30 cm is ideal to see it.
The “New Horizons” is the only spacecraft that entered Pluto’s orbit. New Horizons launched in 2006 and it entered Pluto’s orbit in July 2015. The closest approach was on July 15, 2015. The spacecraft’s mission was to understand the morphology and geology of Pluto as well as its closest moon Charon.
Why is Pluto not a planet anymore?
In 2006, IAU (International Astronomical Union) announced the definition of a planet. According to this 3 point definition, an astronomical body is a planet if,
1- It is orbiting around the Sun.
2- It must have enough mass to have a round shape using its own gravity.
3- It must clear its neighboring region around its orbit.
Since Pluto did not fulfill the third requirement it is not an independent planet but a dwarf planet.
What are 5 facts about Pluto?
1- Pluto is a dwarf planet.
2- It is the ninth-largest body of the solar system.
3- It has five known moons.
4- Pluto is the largest dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt.
5- Pluto, discovered by Lowell Observatory on 18th February 1930.
Can we live on Pluto?
Life on Pluto is not possible because of a number of reasons. The surface temperature of Pluto is very low. It might be possible that it has oceans under its surface. But still, no life-supporting features are present. Pluto’s atmosphere has Nitrogen and Carbon Monoxide mainly and humans cannot survive without oxygen. Also because of its huge distance from the sun, it receives very small amounts of sunlight. Hence, very little sunlight, icy surface, colder temperatures, and no oxygen make it almost impossible for humans to live.
What is Pluto made of?
Most of Pluto’s surface is icy having frozen carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and methane. The planet has polar ice caps where traces of frozen methane and nitrogen are present.