July 11, 2012 |
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a fifth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto, a surprise because they did not expect such a complex system surrounding such a small body. The new moon, designated P5, is thought to be irregular in shape and six to 15 miles across. It is in a 59,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto, which was demoted from its status as a full-fledged planet in 2006 following the discovery of other similar-sized bodies in the Kuiper belt.
May 31, 2012 |
Two Los Angeles-area scientists will share the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics for their work studying the Kuiper Belt in the outer solar system, the Kavli Foundation announced Thursday. Michael Brown of Caltech and David Jewitt of UCLA were honored along with Jane Luu of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory “for discovering and characterizing the Kuiper Belt and its largest members, work that led to a major advance in the understanding of the history of our planetary system,” according to the foundation . David Jewitt and Luu are credited with spotting the first known object in the Kuiper Belt , an icy, disc-shaped territory beyond the orbit of Neptune.
December 14, 2009 |
NASA's newest mapping mission, designed to sniff out the dimmest residents of our neighborhood in space, launched successfully this morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Delta II rocket carrying the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft lifted off at 6:09 a.m., Pacific time. About eight minutes later, the 1,485-pound WISE craft entered space. About 52 minutes into the flight, the craft's second-stage rocket ignited again, placing the vehicle into its assigned polar orbit 326 miles above the Earth.
July 18, 2009 |
A new theory says the solar system's main asteroid belt is littered with icy invaders -- asteroids that seem more like primitive frozen comets than the baked rocks that make up a large majority of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. A theory proposed by scientists in the journal Nature suggests the icy rocks are "contamination" from the Kuiper asteroid belt beyond Neptune.
January 15, 2006 |
Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh could not have known how fitting it was to call his new planet Pluto, after the Roman god of the underworld. In the 76 years since Tombaugh discovered the solar system's ninth planet, Pluto has remained an enigma -- a shrouded phantom lurking in the dark recesses of the solar system. Three billion miles from Earth, the diminutive ice world is so distant that even the Hubble Space Telescope can produce only a hazy image of an object resembling a chewed-on tennis ball.
November 5, 2005 |
Pluto has three moons, not one, new images from the Hubble Space Telescope suggest. Pluto, discovered as the ninth planet in 1930, was thought to be alone until its moon Charon was spotted in 1978. The new moons, more than twice as far away as Charon and only a fraction as bright, were spotted by Hubble in May. Although the observations have to be confirmed, members of the team that discovered the satellites said Monday that they felt confident about their data.