Pluto's characteristics

According to Space, since Pluto is so far from Earth, little was known about the dwarf planet's size or surface conditions until 2015, when NASA's New Horizons space probe made a close flyby of Pluto. New Horizons showed that Pluto has a diameter of 1,473 miles (2,370 km), less than one-fifth the diameter of Earth, and only about two-thirds as wide as Earth's moon.

Observations of Pluto's surface by the New Horizons spacecraft revealed a variety of surface features, including mountains that reach as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters), comparable to the Rocky Mountains on Earth. While methane and nitrogen ice covers much of the surface of Pluto, these materials are not strong enough to support such enormous peaks, so scientists suspect that the mountains are formed on a bedrock of water ice.

Top 17 funny Facts About Pluto

1. Because of its elliptical orbit, the distance from Pluto to the Sun varies between 30 and 50 times the distance from the Sun to Earth. Thus, the thin atmosphere of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide is subject to extreme seasonal changes due to melting and freezing processes.

2. The New Horizons spacecraft was launched on Earth in 2006 and reached Pluto in 2015, reaching top speeds of over 52,000 miles per hour (84,000 kilometers per hour) over this distance.

3. Russia has more landmass than Pluto.

4. On Pluto there is a heart-shaped patch of frozen nitrogen that extends over 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) and is called Sputnik Planitia.

5. When Pluto has circled the sun once, 1028 years have passed on Mercury.

6. Pluto is only one-third the size of the Earth’s moon and even only one-sixth its mass.

7. Despite its low mass, Pluto has five known moons.

8. The largest Pluto moon Charon is about half the size of Pluto itself.

11. The dwarf planet Pluto was named after the Roman god of the underworld after the eleven-year-old Venetia Burney suggested the name to discoverer Clyde Tombaugh.

12. Styx is the smallest Pluto moon and has a maximum diameter of ten miles (16 kilometers).

13. The Pluto moon Charon moves around Pluto at the same speed as the dwarf planet rotates around its own axis. If you were standing on the surface of Pluto, Charon would always remain stable in the same place in the sky without rising or setting.

14. Pluto is the largest and brightest object of the Kuiper Belt, a ring of frozen bodies surrounding the solar system.

15. Since 2006 Pluto is officially no longer a planet since the dwarf planet Eris was discovered in 2005. Although it is slightly smaller than Pluto, it is more massive. This led to a revision of the planet definition, which then no longer applied to Pluto. Because scientists assumed that in the future further planets of this size could be discovered.

16. There is a large dark spot at the North Pole of Pluto’s moon Charon, and scientists have no idea what it is. They, therefore, called it Mordor in reference to the mysterious dark land in “The Lord of the Rings”.

17. In the time since Pluto was discovered approximately 75 years ago, it has only traveled one-third of its way around the sun.