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Dwarf planet mysteries beckon to New Horizons

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At this very moment one of the fastest spacecraft ever launched -- NASA's New Horizons -- is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and still has four more years of travel to go.

New Horizons headed for the lonely world of Pluto on the outer edge of the solar system.

Although astronomers now call Pluto a dwarf planet, "it's actually a large place, about 5,000 miles around at the equator," says Alan Stern, principal investigator for the mission. "And it's never been explored."

Indeed, no spacecraft has ever visited Pluto or any dwarf planet.

Dwarf planet mysteries beckon to New Horizons

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I can't wait for it to get there. I'd love to see the images and data collected by New Horizons so we could learn more about the least known about planet in the Solar System.

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Damn right

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I can't wait for it to get there. I'd love to see the images and data collected by New Horizons so we could learn more about the least known about planet in the Solar System.

WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT IT'S GONE

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WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT IT'S GONE

...

Buh?

:huh:

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This will be an exciting time to learn even more about our solar system

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I've always been fascinated with Pluto, especially as a child.

That surprised some. But it was the furthest planet from the Sun (usually, anyway, as at times, Neptune was further). So it was so mysterious to me, especially since we knew so little about it.

I'm still interested in what they find, even though it's no longer considered a planet.

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I'm looking forward to it. I recently heard of the discovery of it's fourth moon.

I didn't know they'd discovered three, only knew of Charon.

I've been wanting to know what it looks like, with real pictures, for awhile now.

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I've been wanting to know what it looks like, with real pictures, for awhile now.

I'm really curious about that too...

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Actually, the dispute over Pluto's status has been raging for far more than five years. Since Pluto's discovery in 1930, astronomers have been divided about Pluto, largely because it represents a new type of planet not seen before. What we need to realize is that there are more than just two classes of planets, terrestrial and jovian. Dwarf planets represent a third class of planets, and there may be even more types out there. Also, this debate is not limited to members of the International Astronomical Union. Most of those who voted in 2006--four percent of the IAU--are not planetary scientists but other types of astronomers. Conversely, many planetary scientists are not IAU members. However, given that planets are their primary area of study, these planetary scientists should definitely have a voice in this discussion.

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by the time it gets there all instuments abord will be outdated and i also think its a waist of money ,shouldnt we be looking alittle closer in our back yard? maybe to the planets we can actully get to so what did that space jusnk cost 20bil? lol

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by the time it gets there all instuments abord will be outdated and i also think its a waist of money ,shouldnt we be looking alittle closer in our back yard? maybe to the planets we can actully get to so what did that space jusnk cost 20bil? lol

We already have probes that have gone out to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The Voyagers took some stunning video and stills of the outer planets, except Pluto.

I don't think NASA's entire budget is 20 billion.

It's systems are currently up to date, and actually won't be outmoded so quickly. The Hubble lasted a very long time, the shuttles were brought in in the 70s, and didn't get retired until last year.

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