Hubble peers at Pluto

Roamy here.  Yesterday was not only the 42nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was also the day they announced that the Hubble Space Telescope had found a fourth moon orbiting Pluto.  I remember the bragging that Hubble was able to resolve Pluto and Charon into two separate objects, and I must have missed the memo when they found moons #2 and #3.  Nix and Hydra are estimated to be 20 – 70 miles in diameter, while new moon #4 is estimated between 8 and 21 miles in diameter.  It’s more than 3 billion miles from Earth to Pluto, so the Wide Field Camera 3, added during the last repair mission, got a workout.

These latest pictures were taken for further detailed planning of the New Horizons mission, which was launched in 2006, back when Pluto was still a planet.  New Horizons passed the orbit of Uranus earlier this year and should reach Pluto in 2015.

Is launchy as good as ‘splodey?
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNJNaIoa5Hk&w=425&h=349]

5 thoughts on “Hubble peers at Pluto”

  1. “Is launchy as good as ‘splodey?”
    As long as it doesn’t occur as part of the same event, it is ALMOST as good. But launchy that terminates in on-target splodey is best.

  2. I guess they will have to reconsider Pluto’s status. It is obviously a planet.

    Like Esli I like ‘splodey on target, but particularly when I call for it because someone is trying to put ‘splodey on the target on which I reside, or is otherwise trying to do serious damage to my one and only precious body parts.

  3. Roamy, what lift vehicle did NASA use to get that thing on it’s way towards Pluto? It must’ve been a monster, but it really didn’t look that big.

    1. Atlas V 551 rocket with five strap-on boosters and a Star 48B third stage. New Horizons is just over 1,000 lbs., where that Atlas configuration would ordinarily lift almost 20,000 lbs to geosynchronous transfer orbit.

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