Pluto Essay

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Mission to Pluto Research Paper Mission to Pluto Research Paper There are nine planets in our solar system and we have visited all of these but one. Even though Pluto is the smallest and furthest planet from the sun, it is no way inferior to the other planets. It in fact is possibly one of the most unique bodies in the solar system. There is much that we do not know about this tiny world and its equally unique moon, Charon. For this reason we are proposing to send a flyby mission to the Pluto-Charon system as soon as possible. Pluto was discovered on February 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona (Stern 207). Jim Christy discovered Charon in 1978. Even though Pluto was discovered over seventy years ago, much of the information we know about this planet and its moon has been discovered very recently, in the late 1970's. Through Earth based observations. We were able to project the mass of Pluto to be 1.27e22 kilograms, and the mass of Charon to be 1.90e21 kilograms. We have also been able to hypothesize about other properties. The radius of Pluto is about 1137 kilometers (Hamilton 2). The radius of Charon is about 586 kilometers. Both bodies are relatively small, even in comparison to something as small as the United States (See figure 1). The temperature of Pluto is close to thirty five to forty-five degrees Kelvin (Arnet 2). The temperature of the Pluto-Charon system is so low because it is extremely far away from the Sun. In fact, it is nearly thirty-nine and one half astronomical units away from it (Kaufman 383). This is 5,913,520,000 kilometers (Hamilton 2)! The composition of Pluto and Charon is thought to be made up of large amounts of rock mixed with methane, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide ice. When Pluto is closest to the Sun, the planet warms up just enough for a thin atmosphere to form on the surface. The atmosphere is

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