In the outer part of our solar system is Pluto a dwarf planet. It’s the second dwarf planet closest to the sun, with the others a little further away. Discovered in 1930, Pluto was once considered a planet until 2006 when the definition changed. New Horizons visited the dwarf planet to uncover some fascinating facts. Scroll for interesting Pluto planet facts for kids.
Pluto Planet Facts For Kids
1. 2nd largest dwarf planet
Pluto is the second dwarf planet closest to the Sun and was also the ninth planet of the solar system from 1930 when it became discovered until 2006. It is also the second-largest dwarf planet and Eris is the largest known dwarf planet.
2. The Lowell Observatory discovered Pluto on 18 February 1930
This completed under a third of its orbit around the Sun for the 76 years between the discovery of Pluto and the time it was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
3. Pluto is named after the Roman god of the underworld
Pluto was named after Venetia Burney, an 11-year-old girl, the Roman god of the underworld.
4. Pluto has five known moons
Pluto has five moons, not because it’s especially massive, but because at the edge of the Kuiper Belt there is a lot more debris. One of the reasons Pluto is a dwarf planet is its failure to clear the surrounding space, Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra are Pluto’s five natural satellites. Many of them can be known as large-scale asteroids. Hydra, for example, is only five miles away.
5. Pluto rotates very slowly and backward
A single day is equivalent to 6.4 Earth days on Pluto, and it rotates backward compared to Earth and most other planets. Pluto, like Venus and Neptune, travels from east to west. Like Neptune, it rotates on its side as well.
6. Its real name is “134340 Pluto”
This got a new official name after Pluto was demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet. Dwarf planets are in the same object class as asteroids and use the same naming system for MPC (minor-planet designation). Therefore, the official name of Pluto is “134340 Pluto.”
7. Pluto is one third water
This is in the form of water ice that is more than three times as much water as in all the oceans on Earth, the other two-thirds are rock The surface of Pluto is covered with ice, and it has many mountain ranges, light and dark regions, and crater scattering.
8. Pluto is smaller than a number of moons
These are Ganymede, Titan Callisto, Io Europa, Triton, and the moon of Earth, Pluto has 66% of the Earth’s moon’s diameter and 18% of its mass. While it is now known that Pluto has been around 10 years of being the largest dwarf planet, it was assumed that it was Eris.
9. One spacecraft visited Pluto
The spacecraft New Horizons, launched in 2006, flew on 14 July 2015 by Pluto and took a series of pictures and other measurements. New Horizons is now on its way to discovering even more distant objects in the Kuiper Belt.
10. Pluto has an atmosphere, sometimes
Once Pluto’s elliptical orbit becomes closer to the Sun, the surface ice thaws and forms a thin atmosphere, mostly of nitrogen which gradually escapes the planet. It also has a methane haze that is about 161 kilometers above the ground. Sunlight dissociates the methane into hydrocarbons falling to the surface and covering the ice with a dark cover As Pluto flies away from the Sun, the atmosphere melts back to its solid-state.
11. It’s probably brighter on Pluto than you thought
Pluto’s distance from the earth varies with its eccentric orbit, but the average distance from the sun is still almost 40 times higher than the Earth Always, it’s lighter on Pluto than you might imagine. Around “noon” on Pluto, when the sun’s exposure is at its peak, it’s bright enough to read a book.
12. The orbit of Pluto crosses that of Neptune
Unlike the eight planets in the solar system, Pluto has a very eccentric orbit. It even crosses Neptune’s orbit and stays about 20 years closer to the Sun than the gas giant. The last happened in 1979, and it won’t happen again until 2207. So why isn’t Neptune’s huge mass ejecting Pluto from orbit? We have an orbital resonance, which means they’re never in the same space field at the same time.
13. The word “plutoid” is used to identify objects rounded and orbiting the Sun outside Neptune’s orbit in the solar system
There are only four officially known plutoids – Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake. Some scientists assume that there are at least 70 more objects that could be plutoids and are awaiting identification.
So, these are some of the amazing and interesting Pluto planet facts for kids.
Until the latest fly-by spacecraft, Pluto was a mysterious celestial body. The things about this dwarf planet that have been found have made it more interesting.
Also Read: Space Related Facts For Your Kids