Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

NASA Says Pluto May Have Three Moons Instead Of One

May 2005 Hubble image of the Pluto-Charon system showing the detection of two new satellites.

Washington (AFP) Nov 01, 2005
Pluto, the smallest and most distant planet of the solar system, may have three moons instead of just one, according to images NASA said were taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronomers from the Southwest Research Institute reported observing the moons in May as they described near circular orbits around the icy planet in three days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

If the discovery is confirmed by the International Astronomical Union, the two new moons will be named after characters in Greek and Roman mythology and take their side along Charon, Pluto's moon discovered in 1978.

For the time being, the two tiny satellites have been named S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2. They have eluded detection so long because they are 5,000 times dimmer than Pluto.

The two moons-in-waiting were observed to be approximately 44,000 kilometers (27,000 miles) and 53,000 kilometers (44,000 miles) away from Pluto -- two or three times as far from the planet as Charon.

Compared to Charon's 1,200 kilometer (745 mile) diameter, the two new moons are pint-sized: just 32 kilometers (20 miles) and 70 kilometers (43 miles) across, respectively.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 at a distance of some 6.4 billion kilometers (three billion miles) from the sun in the heart of the Kuiper Belt -- a zone beyond Neptune 4.5-7.5 billion kilometers (2.8-4.6 billion miles) from the sun.

The Kuiper Belt is estimated to include more than 35,000 objects of more than 100 kilomters (65 miles) in diameter: the remnants of the sun's accretion ring of matter from which all the planets were formed.

"If, as our new Hubble images indicate, Pluto has not one, but two or three moons, it will become the first body in the Kuiper Belt known to have more than one satellite," said astrophysicist Hal Weaver, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Maryland, and a co-leader of the team that made the discovery.

The discoveries were made as the team prepared a NASA robotic mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt to be launched early next year.

Pluto, with its relatively small diameter of 2,252 kilometers (1,400 miles) is not considered a real planet by many astronomers.

Related Links
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Hubble Spots Possible New Moons Around Pluto
Laurel MD (SPX) Nov 01, 2005
The Hubble Space Telescope images above, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, reveal Pluto, its large moon Charon, and the planet's two new candidate satellites.

New from!

It's new. And it's downright terrific!

Celestron's CPC Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is the scope you've been waiting for! It offers new alignment technology, advanced engineering, and bold new design at a new, low price!

In fact, Celestron's Professional Computerized (CPC) scope with revolutionary SkyAlign Alignment Technology redefines everything that amateur astronomers are looking for. It offers quick and simple alignment, GPS technology, unsurpassed optical quality, ease of use, advanced ergonomics, enhanced computerization and, most important, affordability.

Want to view M-31 tonight? One button takes you there!

Shop for telescopes online at! today!

  • Russia, China Could Create Spacecraft To Explore Mars, The Moon
  • Energiya Corporation Suggests Using New Kliper Spaceship
  • GAO: NASA Still Has Accounting Problems
  • Russian Government Approves 2006-2015 Federal Space Program

  • Methane Found In Desert Soils Bolsters Theories That Life Could Exist On Mars
  • Spirit In Kansas
  • Managing Murphy's Law on Mars
  • Mars Society Australia Gets Stage Three Funding For Starchaser Rover

  • Russian Rocket Launch With U.S. Satellite Set For December 1
  • SSETI Express - One Day To Launch
  • Ban On Russian Rokot Launches Lifted
  • Spaceway 2 Is Readied For Its Launch On Ariane 5

  • India To Launch Exclusive Satellite To Track Natural Disasters
  • Rensselaer Researcher Awarded DARPA Funding To Improve Terrain Maps
  • Boeing Awarded National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Security Data Contracts
  • New Atlas Details Alarming Damage To Africa's Lakes

  • NASA Says Pluto May Have Three Moons Instead Of One
  • Hubble Spots Possible New Moons Around Pluto
  • New Horizons Pluto Payload Ready For Flight, Exciting Science Campaign
  • The PI's Perspective: Changes in Latitude

  • A SWIRE Picture Is Worth Billions Of Years
  • Integral: Three Years Of Insight Into The Violent Cosmos
  • Lady In Red: Andromeda Galaxy Shines In Spitzer's Eyes
  • HETE-2 Satellite Solves Mystery Of Cosmic Explosions

  • Energia To Build Site For Moon Flights - Corporation President
  • NASA Internet Software Zooms To Moon Images In 3-D
  • NASA'S Hubble Looks For Possible Moon Resources
  • Ball State Students Developing Model Of Edible Lunar Vehicle

  • Garmin Taps XM NavTraffic Powered By NAVTEQ Traffic For Real-Time Data
  • Harris Corporation Awarded Contract For Joint Direct Attack Munition Anti-Jam GPS Electronics
  • First Galileo Satellite To Be Presented At ESA/ESTEC
  • Winner Of DARPA Robotic Vehicle Race Has NovAtel GPS Onboard

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement