A 3D model of Pluto.Source: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD), Published: April 22, 2019.
“Is pluto a planet?”
Pluto the planet was discovered on February 18, 1930 by astronomer Clyde W Tombaugh in Flagstaff, Arizona.
For nearly 75 years, Pluto remained among the nine recognized planets in our solar system. But in 2006, it was demoted to the status of dwarf planet by the IAU (International Astronomical Union). So now, pluto is not a planet but a dwarf planet.
Pluto Quick Facts
Discovered By: Clyde W. Tombaugh
Discovery Date: February 18th 1930
Surface Temperature: -229°C
Orbit Period: 247.92065 Earth years
Orbit Distance: 5,874,000,000 km (39.26 AU)
Notable Moons: 5 i.e. Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx
Radius: 715 miles | 1,151 kilometers
Mass: 13,050,000,000,000 billion kg (0.00218 x Earth)
Day: 153 hours
Year: 248 Earth years
Planet Type: Dwarf
Why was Pluto demoted?
After the discovery of Eris in 2005, Pluto was demoted in 2006 from a planet to a dwarf planet after the IAU defined the term “planet”.
According to IAU, there are three criteria to fulfill for a full-sized planet are:
- It is in orbit around the Sun.
- It has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a nearly round shape).
- It has “cleared the neighborhood” around its orbit.
But Pluto meets only two of these criteria, losing out on the third. (ref)
How many dwarf planets in our solar system?
Officially there are 5 dwarf planets: Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Haumea and Makemake.
Below, we have prepared a list of best interesting facts about Pluto. Maybe some of them you will already know but some Pluto facts for kids will definitely surprise you. So let’s start the amazing journey of Dwarf Planet Pluto.
FACT 1. Pluto was named by Venetia Burney an 11 year old girl from Oxford, England.
FACT 2. Pluto is considered to be the largest dwarf planet discovered so far.
FACT 3. The dwarf planet Pluto is named for the ancient Roman god of the underworld.
FACT 5. The diameter of Pluto is 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) across.That is about 2/3rd the diameter of Earth’s moon.
Pluto’s 5 Moon Names
CHARON, STYX, NIX, KERBEROS, and HYDRA
FACT 6. Pluto has five moons named Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra.
FACT 7. Charon is closest to Pluto and also the largest moon of pluto. Hydra is the farthest moon of pluto.
FACT 8. Pluto is smaller than 7 other moons, including Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Europa, Triton, and Earth’s moon.
FACT 9. On Pluto, a single day is equal to 153 hours (6.4 Earth days) and a year is 248 Earth years. It means, If you lived on Pluto, your 1st birthday will come after 248 Earth years.
FACT 10. Pluto rotates backward compared to Earth. It goes from east to west like Venus and Neptune. It also rotates on its side, like Neptune.
FACT 11. It takes about 5 hours for sunlight to reach Pluto. While it takes 8 minutes to reach the earth
FACT 12. Pluto’s new name is 134340 assigned by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) to reflect its new status as a dwarf planet.
FACT 13. Pluto has a thin atmosphere of nitrogen (98%), and traces of methane and carbon monoxide.
FACT 14. The only spacecraft to visit Pluto is NASA’s New Horizons, which passed close by in July 2015.
FACT 15. The spacecraft will continue to study other objects in the Kuiper Belt from about 2018 to 2022.
FACT 16. Pluto has no Ring system.
FACT 17. If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 7 pounds on Pluto!
FACT 18. Pluto is made up of around 70% rock and 30% water ice with a rocky core that’s surrounded by a water ice mantle.
FACT 19. Pluto is actually closer to the sun than Neptune for about 8% of its orbit.
FACT 20. Due to extreme cold temperatures, life is impossible on Pluto. Even if water is present, it is essentially rock-like.