Name Of PlutoFebruary 1930, Clyde Tombaugh 24 years old and fresh off a farm in Kansas patiently scans photographic plate at the Lowell Observatory. He finds a tiny speck that turns out to be a new planet called Pluto. But in the 75 since then a close-up view of Pluto and its giant moon Charon still only come from the artist's imagination.
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The discovery made headlines around the globe. Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received more than 1,000 suggestions from all over the world. After some debate, An English schoolgirl 11-year-old Venetia Burney came up with the name Pluto, God of the underworld. Cleverly, the name also honors Percival Lowell, as the first two letters of the name Pluto are Percival Lowell's initials.
Each member of the Lowell Observatory was allowed to vote on a short-list of three potential names: Minerva, Cronus, and Pluto. Pluto received every vote. The name was announced on May 1, 1930. Upon the announcement, Madan gave Venetia £5 as a reward.
Name Of CharonIn 1978, astronomers Jim Christie and Bob Harington analyzed new plates taken at US Naval Observatory in Flagstaff. Christie noted an elongation of the planet to the north. One month later, the bump had disappeared. Blink the images back and forward just like Clyde Tombaugh did and we see the bump is moving there. The conclusion is that the Pluto, like Earth, has a moon.
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Christie suggested the name, Karen after the ferryman of Pluto's underworld in Greek mythology. But preferred to pronounce it Charon more like his wife's name Charlene. From the motions of Pluto and Charon astronomers could work out that the moon was almost half the size of its planet. So large that both objects spin around a central point their mutual center of gravity outside Pluto. Pluto and Charon were the first binary planet known in our solar system.
Nature Of PlutoThe main about going to Pluto is that it is so far away. The earth is almost 100 million away from the sun. Pluto was 30 times that far 3 billion miles away. To get the Pluto in our lifetimes means it has to go very fast. Its average speed is more than 10 miles per second and to do that it had to be light.
In the 1990s came a series of discoveries that changed everything. Researchers found more and icier objects in a massive region of the outer solar system known as the Kuiper belt and once scientist discovered Kuiper belt everything sort of fell into place. The understanding that in the fact Pluto and Charon are members of this other class of objects called the ice dwarfs and in fact, we think that these ice dwarfs are the most populous class of planetary body in our entire solar system. That tells us from that respect photos not special it's got lots of company out there ice dwarfs are not far out there. In the early days four billion years ago, they may have a role in shaping the earth and bringing our planet the material of which we are made.
The collision between the Kuiper belt produced the short period comets which then fall in towards sun and bombard the earth. Sometimes bringing some of the raw materials from which life formed and some of the water that is on the surface of the earth. This information about earth birth is not available anywhere else. So the key of that big puzzle of how the solar system formed will come from looking at Pluto.
Pluto remained little more than a dot as small and as a walnut seen from 30 miles away. In the 1990s the Hubble Space Telescope showed just a blurry surface and this image is the best we can do with Hubble and advanced computers. Pluto clearly has a varied surface but whether these are mountains or craters or a polar caps remains a mystery. That is where New Horizons wide-angle camera comes in. Because scientists want to get up close and personal.
If we think about the solar system the so-called terrestrial planet they are rocky objects on the inner solar system. The Mercury, Mars, Venus and Earth have a lot of similarities. Then we step out a little bit further and we get into the what is called the gas giant planets. These are huge objects which are dominated by large amounts of hydrogen and helium gas and that is Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Strangely enough, Pluto's surface seems to have about the same brightness as freshly fallen snow on earth. It appears so dim because it is so small and very far away. Equally bizarre Pluto sometimes behave more like a comet than a planet. When its eccentric orbit brings it closer to the sun the surface heats up and produces a denser atmosphere.
Why Pluto Is Not A PlanetAfter the discovery of Eris, which initially known as Xena. Xena has now officially been named Eris, goddess of discord which seems appropriate. Some astronomers argue that Pluto and Eris as Kuiper Belt objects should not be classified as true planets others disagree.
In 2006, in a controversial decision, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto, Charon and Eris as dwarf planets. But Mike Brown thinks the new findings far out in the Kuiper Belt only make the New Horizons mission more exciting. Pluto is the closest member of this new class of objects. The next best thing to studying all of these objects out there is to go look at some of the big ones go look at Pluto. It is not the biggest one out there but it is the closest really big one that we can learn a lot about. So Brown think that going to Pluto is much more exciting.