Friday, February 24, 2006

Pluto's Not Lonely anymore!

Yesterday in Nature here Scientists are using Hubble Space telescope to help guide New Horizons to Pluto and chart the two new moons and rings around the planet.

Those planning NASA's New Horizons mission, now en route first to a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007 and then its July 2015 appointment with Pluto, are now adding to their to-do list highly resolved imaging and spectroscopy of the newly discovered satellites. Refining these satellites' sizes and their orbital positions in nine years' time will also be a priority for observations to follow those currently being reported2. Both on its way in and out of the Pluto system, New Horizons' instruments will canvass the orbit plane for more satellites, rings and other telltale signs that might reveal the origin and evolution of this close-knit family. Pluto is a lonely place no more.

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