SCIENCE: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

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Thread: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

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    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
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    Default Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.

    “The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

    The discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five.

    The Pluto team is intrigued that such a small planet can have such a complex collection of satellites. The new discovery provides additional clues for unraveling how the Pluto system formed and evolved. The favored theory is that all the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper belt object billions of years ago.

    The new detection will help scientists navigate NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft through the Pluto system in 2015, when it makes an historic and long-awaited high-speed flyby of the distant world.

    The team is using Hubble’s powerful vision to scour the Pluto system to uncover potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft. Moving past the dwarf planet at a speed of 30,000 miles per hour, New Horizons could be destroyed in a collision with even a BB-shot-size piece of orbital debris.

    “The discovery of so many small moons indirectly tells us that there must be lots of small particles lurking unseen in the Pluto system,” said Harold Weaver of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

    “The inventory of the Pluto system we're taking now with Hubble will help the New Horizons team design a safer trajectory for the spacecraft,” added Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., the mission’s principal investigator.

    Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, was discovered in 1978 in observations made at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Hubble observations in 2006 uncovered two additional small moons, Nix and Hydra. In 2011 another moon, P4, was found in Hubble data.

    Provisionally designated S/2012 (134340) 1, the latest moon was detected in nine separate sets of images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on June 26, 27, 29, and July 7 and 9.

    In the years following the New Horizons Pluto flyby, astronomers plan to use the infrared vision of Hubble’s planned successor, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, for follow-up observations. The Webb telescope will be able to measure the surface chemistry of Pluto, its moons, and many other bodies that lie in the distant Kuiper Belt along with Pluto.

    The Pluto Team members are M. Showalter (SETI Institute), H.A. Weaver (Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University), and S.A. Stern, A.J. Steffl, and M.W. Buie (Southwest Research Institute).

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.
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    Still not a planet.
    That's nice.

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    The Creeping Darkness Tsuness's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    I'm always impressed on what the Hubble still does after all these years that we've been using it. A satellite 6-15 miles across at that distance @_@;

    Yes, poor little Pluto isn't a planet :P
    Astronomy Club... you know you want to.

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Still not a planet.
    Still should be; that whole "Not a planet" thing was a stupid decision to begin with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
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    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    No it wasn't. I never liked Pluto.
    That's nice.

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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Wow, I didn't even know Pluto had any other moons aside from Charon, it never ceases to amaze me how powerful telescopes are these days. Congratulations to my favourite little planet for having so many satellites.

    Who is this git?

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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    I thought pluto was a downgraded to dwarf planet or something in 2006. Although dwarf planets can have moons. (dang outdated textbooks messed up my knowledge of the planet.) >:(

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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Figment View Post
    Still not a planet.
    Still should be; that whole "Not a planet" thing was a stupid decision to begin with.
    I'm gonna disagree with you and say it was stupid to call it a planet in the first place.

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Might have been; but once it was established by long tradition (which several decades is) as a planet, inventing a definition of planet that excludes it based on astrophysical concerns that are far beyond the common public just make the scientists looks like they don't give a shit about anyone who doesn't have a PhD.

    Which is already what they look like frequently enough, and a huge part of the disconnect between science and everyday people.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    I refuse to accept that Pluto isn't a planet, it's just far too awesome. And like EF said, it's been established as a planet for a long time.

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    I poke your snoot UnovaCastaway's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    I didn't even realize that Pluto had a fifth moon, let alone a fourth.

    The International Astronomial Union demoted Pluto as a planet for specific reasons, mostly because it has an irregular orbit and can't clear or affect the other bodies in its orbital neighborhood.

    Pluto is part of the Kuiper Belt, an area of the Solar System beyond Neptune that's much bigger than the Mars-Jupiter asteroid belt. Kuiper Belt objects (such as plutinos, cubewanos, etc.) are much bigger than asteroids. Pluto is one of the biggest ones out there, but not big enough to be a full-blown planet. They can have satellites of their own, but their orbit of the sun can be very irregular and take them almost as ar out as some long term comets.

    (interestingly, the same decision that affected Pluto upgraded Ceres, between Mars and Jupiter, from an asteroid to a dwarf planet itself)

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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Unova Castaway: I know perfectly well their reasoning.,

    It was still an utterly unecessary decision from a science world/real world relation point of view, and a full-blown example of scientists being stuck in their ivory towers and not realizing they're not the only ones using these words. They could have invented a term to separate pluto from the rest without trying to hijack a commonly used word and redefine it in a jargon that makes fairly little sense to anyone who isn't an astronomy geek at the very least.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  12. #12
    Winged man prefers night Ziggy Stardust's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    No matter it's smaller than the Moon, Pluto will be forever a planet in our hearts. <3

    I didn't know Pluto had any moon other than Charon, anyway.

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    I poke your snoot UnovaCastaway's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Eris, the dwarf planet that's bigger than Pluto and started the whole debate, has a moon of its own.

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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Hmmm, well, that's new, I didn't know pluto had more than one moon to begin with (Charon). I guess it shouldn't surprise me though, they're finding all these new things all the time still with that telescope. It's pretty cool. :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Figment View Post
    Unova Castaway: I know perfectly well their reasoning.,

    It was still an utterly unecessary decision from a science world/real world relation point of view, and a full-blown example of scientists being stuck in their ivory towers and not realizing they're not the only ones using these words. They could have invented a term to separate pluto from the rest without trying to hijack a commonly used word and redefine it in a jargon that makes fairly little sense to anyone who isn't an astronomy geek at the very least.
    I really don't understand why you think it's so hard for people to grasp the idea of a planetoid vs a planet, but I do agree with the whole human relation issue part. It was a bad move, but scientist are often known for not having the best abilities in this area anyways. The real question in the end is what will stand, tradition or science? :P

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    Registered User The Outrage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pluto's Fifth Moon Discovered

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Figment View Post
    Might have been; but once it was established by long tradition (which several decades is) as a planet, inventing a definition of planet that excludes it based on astrophysical concerns that are far beyond the common public just make the scientists looks like they don't give a shit about anyone who doesn't have a PhD.

    Which is already what they look like frequently enough, and a huge part of the disconnect between science and everyday people.
    I just have a problem with the notion that science shouldn't redefine concepts rooted in long established tradition given certain things that people have claimed based on nothing more than a long established tradition rooted in social norms. Obviously, the issue of Pluto being a planet doesn't actually have as big an impact on people, which is why I am astonished there's even a problem in its redefinition in the first place. They saw Pluto was different from all the other planets, and the easiest solution is to say Pluto is not a planet.

    Perhaps there is an issue with "stealing a word from the public" and redefining it (though I would think "planet" would have a more scientific origin and eventually fell into common use), but it's weird to throw around accusations of scientists actively promoting the disconnect between the public, while at the same time, advocating that scientists should invented a new term (i.e., create new jargon, an actual sign of trying to create a disconnect between experts and nonexperts) that no one in the general public would have cared about. It seems to me the public got way more involved in learning what a Kuiper belt object is from the decision to redefine "planet" based on their jargon-y definition than if they created a new jargon word.

    Make these claims all you want, but in the end, their decision got the public's interest and probably educated a few minds. Obviously there are some people who would just stop at "scientists can't play god!" type logic, but in the end, others were still educated regardless of whether they like this definition or not. And given that there are many common words that take on different meanings in a scientific and nonscientific context (in the social sciences anyway....), I find it weird people are having trouble just calling it a planet outside of a scientific setting and calling it a day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post

    I didn't know Pluto had any moon other than Charon, anyway.
    That was my reaction. I was basically "why did I not know when second through fourth was discovered"
    Last edited by The Outrage; 18th July 2012 at 01:54 AM.

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