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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Topsy Turvy Worlds

Topsy Turvy Worlds

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, June 4, 2015/Categories: natural history, video, space science, adventure

                                         Pluto/Charon Binary Dwarf System  (credit: NASA)

Pluto and its large companion Charon orbit each other in a binary, dwarf-planet system. This duality creates an odd center of gravity and four moons circling the duo have orbits that are full of wobbles and topsy-turvy spins. Recent measurements by the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's rapidly approaching  New Horizons  spacecraft indicate a planetary system unlike any other in our solar system. The surprising findings were reported at a special NASA  teleconference  yesterday.

New Horizons
is the first robotic exploration of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. It will reach the planet in less that 60 days. The goal of the NASA mission is to "help understand worlds at the edge of the solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt, a relic of solar system's formation".

An animation shows how the oblong, potato-shapes moons tumble about in their chaotic orbits. It offers a tantalizing bit of the other discoveries New Horizons may make as it approaches its strange destination.



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