Moons of pluto
  
1. Charon


Once known as the smallest, coldest, and most distant planet from the Sun, Pluto has a dual identity. Pluto (134340) is also a member of a group of objects that orbit in a disc-like zone beyond the orbit of Neptune called the Kuiper Belt. This distant region consists of thousands of miniature icy worlds with diameters of at least 1,000 km and is also believed to be the source of some comets.
Pluto has three known moons, Hydra (134340 III) and Nix (134340 II), as well as its companion moon, Charon (134340 I). At about 1,186 km (737 miles), Charon's diameter is a little more than half of Pluto's.
The duo's gravity has locked them into a mutually synchronous orbit, which keeps each one facing the other with the same side. Many moons - including our own - keep the same hemisphere facing their planet. But this is the only case in which the planet always presents the same hemisphere to its moon. If you stood on one and watched the other, it would appear to hover in place, never moving across the sky.
Charon was discovered in 1978, while two additional moons Hydra and Nix, were discovered in 2005. In Greek mythology, Charon was the boatman who carried the souls of the dead to the underworld - a kingdom that in Roman mythology was ruled by the god, Pluto. The U.S. Naval Observatory's James Christy suggested the name after he found the moon in 1978.
Seven years later, Charon and Pluto began a five-year period of eclipsing each other from Earth's point of view. That was lucky for us, because it enabled scientists to measure the diameters and masses of both objects as each passed in front of the other.
Charon appears to be covered by water ice, which differs from Pluto's surface of frozen nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide. One theory is that the materials that formed Charon were blasted out of Pluto in a collision. That's very similar to the way in which our own moon is thought to have been created.
NASA launched its New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto and Charon in January 2006, and it should arrive in 2015, becoming the first spacecraft to visit them. In preparation, the New Horizons project is organizing a search for additional moons of Pluto, using ground-based telescopes and possibly the Hubble Space Telescope.

Pluto: Moons: Charon: Facts & Figures  
  
  
Discovered By
  J. Christy
 
  
Date of Discovery
  1978
 
  
Average Distance from Pluto
  Metric: 19,600 km
 
  
Equatorial Radius
  Metric: 593 km
 
  
Mass
  Metric: 1,620,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Scientific Notation: 1.62 x 1021 kg
 
  
Rotation Period (Length of Day)
  6.4 Earth days 
153.3 hours 
By Comparison: Synchronous with Pluto
 
  
Orbit Period (Length of Year)
  6.38725 Earth days 
 
  
Orbital Inclination to Ecliptic
  96.16 degrees
 
 

2. Hydra
3. Nix
 

Pluto: Facts & Figures  
  
  
Discovered By
  Clyde Tombaugh
 
  
Date of Discovery
  1930
 
  
Average Distance from the Sun
  Metric: 5,906,380,000 km
English: 3,670,050,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 5.90638 x 109 km (39.482 A.U.) 
By Comparison: 39.482 x Earth
 
  
Perihelion (closest)
  Metric: 4,436,820,000 km
English: 2,756,902,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 4.43682 x 109 km (29.658 A.U.) 
By Comparison: 30.171 x Earth
 
  
Aphelion (farthest)
  Metric: 7,375,930,000 km
English: 4,583,190,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 7.37593 x 109 km (49.305 A.U.) 
By Comparison: 48.481 x Earth
 
  
Equatorial Radius
  Metric: 1,151 km
English: 715 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.151 x 103 km
By Comparison: 0.180 x Earth
 
  
Equatorial Circumference
  Metric: 7,232 km
English: 4,494 miles
Scientific Notation: 7.232 x 103 km
 
  
Volume
  Metric: 6,390,000,000 km3
English: 1,530,000,000 mi3
Scientific Notation: 6.39 x 109 km3
By Comparison: 0.0059 x Earth
 
  
Mass
  Metric: 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Scientific Notation: 1.3 x 1022 kg
By Comparison: 0.0022 x Earth
 
  
Density
  Metric: 2 g/cm3
By Comparison: ~ 0.4 x Earth
 
  
Surface Area
  Metric: 16,650,000 km2
English: 6,430,000 square miles
Scientific Notation: 1.665 x 107 km2
By Comparison: 0.033 x Earth
 
  
Equatorial Surface Gravity
  Metric: 0.81 m/s2
English: 2.7 ft/s2
By Comparison: If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 8 pounds on Pluto.
 
  
Escape Velocity
  Metric: 4,570 km/h
English: 2,840 mph
Scientific Notation: 1,270 m/s
By Comparison: Escape velocity of Earth is 25,022 mph.
 
  
Sidereal Rotation Period (Length of Day)
  -6.387 Earth days (retrograde)
-153.3 hours (retrograde)
By Comparison: One Earth day is 24 hours.
 
  
Sidereal Orbit Period (Length of Year)
  247.92 Earth years 
90,553 Earth days 
 
  
Mean Orbit Velocity
  Metric: 17,096 km/h
English: 10,623 mph
Scientific Notation: 4,749.0 m/s
By Comparison: 0.425 x Earth
 
  
Orbital Eccentricity
  0.2488
By Comparison: 14.9 x Earth
 
  
Orbital Inclination to Ecliptic
  17.14 degrees
 
  
Equatorial Inclination to Orbit
  119.61 degrees
By Comparison: 5.10 x Earth
 
  
Orbital Circumference
  Metric: 32,820,000,000 km
English: 20,390,000,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 3.282 x 1010 km
By Comparison: 35.505 x Earth
 
  
Minimum/Maximum Surface Temperature
  Metric: -233/-223 °C
English: -387/-369 °F
Scientific Notation: 40/50 K
 
  
Atmospheric Constituents
  By Comparison: Earth's atmosphere consists mostly of N2 and O2.
 
  
 


 
 

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