Pluto Gets Its First Official Names

No more pussyfooting around. It’s official: Pluto has 14 new place names. Most we suspected would be there, but a few are new. Pluto’s “heart” now bears the name of American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. Venetia Burney, the British schoolgirl who in 1930 suggested the name “Pluto,” Roman god of the underworld,…
Read More

Summer Too Hot? Cool Off With These New Flyover Videos Of Pluto And Charon

Soaring Over Pluto. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SSI/LPI It’s been two years since NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft gave us our first closeup look at Pluto and its moons. These new videos use photos and elevation models of of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, that offer a fresh new perspective of the features that make these objects so fascinating…
Read More

Star Trek Makes Its Mark On Pluto’s Moon Charon

Evocative, isn’t it? That’s Pluto’s largest moon Charon against a star field, illuminated by the faint light reflected from nearby Pluto. The right edge of the moon just catches the sunlight from the side and shows as a bright crescent. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was already about 100,000 miles (150,000 km) beyond Pluto when the…
Read More

The Mystery Of Pluto’s X-Ray Glow

If you’ve been to a dentist, you’re probably familiar with X-rays. Like the colors purple and red, X-rays are a “color” of light but one invisible to the human eye. If there were X-ray-sensing life forms, who knows what hue they’d see, but it would have a color. Even though X-rays are invisible, they have many…
Read More

Ice Goes Into Hiding On Ceres / Dawn, Pluto Probe Update

We know there’s ice inside Ceres, but it may be chillin’ on the surface, too. Scientists with NASA’s Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed craters on the dwarf planet that have likely been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years. “The conditions on Ceres are right for accumulating deposits of water ice,” said…
Read More