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New Horizons Flyby Pluto !!

New Horizons Flyby Pluto !!

New Horizons Flyby Pluto 4

Is it a Planet? Is it not? No other heavenly object in our solar system has baffled astronomers as much as Pluto. Pluto was discovered in the 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh and was considered the ninth planet of our solar system. But severe doubts were cast on its planet-hood when similar heavenly objects were found (nearly 1000’s of them) in the vicinity of Pluto, also called the Kuiper belt. In 2005, another heavenly object “Eris” was discovered which 27% times more massive than Pluto.

This opened up a can of worms for the IAU (International Astronomical Union). Although, Pluto in turn has five moons of its own: Charon, Styx, Nyx, Kerberos and Hydra; IAU went ahead and declassified Pluto from being a planet. In 2006, IAU defined the term ‘planet’ for the first time. According to the new definition, a heavenly object to be called a planet needs to fulfill three conditions:
                                         1. It has to orbit the sun.
                                         2. It has to be large enough that the force of its gravity pulls it into a spherical shape.
                                         3. It should have “cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.”

New Horizons Flyby Pluto !!

Pluto fulfills the first two criteria’s but fails miserably in the third. IAU coined a new term – “Dwarf Planet” and clubbed Pluto with few other like Eris, Haumea, Ceres, and Makemake etc. from the Kuiper Belt. But this move did not satisfy a lot of astronomers worldwide and remains one of the most controversial decisions made by IAU till date.

New Horizons Flyby Pluto 3

This debate will rage on and not come to any conclusion for the moment. In the meanwhile, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft had a fly-by of Pluto and released amazingly beautiful images of Pluto & its surface. The New Horizon spacecraft has sent huge reams of images and data after its close flyover of Pluto last Tuesday. It has also given astronomers new insights on what actually comprises Pluto’s surface & atmosphere.

New Horizons Flyby Pluto 2New Horizons Flyby Pluto !!

NASA also released a stimulated flyby video of Pluto from the data sent back by New Horizons. It encompasses Pluto’s 11000 feet tall mountain range named “NORGAY MONTES” after Tenzing Norgay; sherpa to Sir Edmund Hillary and one of the two humans to first reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. The plains next to the Norgay Montes mountain range has been named “SPUTNIK PLANUM” after world’s first satellite by Soviet Russia in 1957.

Here is an animated video made from the images of Pluto released by NASA.

In case you want to understand more about the NASA’s incredible Pluto mission, please watch !

About Abhishek Duttagupta

Marketing Aficianado ! Obsessive Foodie ! Jack Of All ! Extremely Inquisitive ! TechnoFreak ! DayDreamer ! And Oh, Utterly Lazy !

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