NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft probe has made the first visit to Pluto, speeding past at 14km or 8.7 miles per second!!
New Horizons’ flyby of 2,370km-wide Pluto is a key moment in the history of space exploration. This was a historic mission because it marks the fact that every planet in that system – from Mercury through to Pluto – has now been visited at least once by a space probe!
“The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said Mark Showalter, the leader of the SETI Institute team that found the images of the fifth moon. ”This is a very tidy system, and what that means is, it’s an orbitally evolved system. Literally there are shells where the orbits are stable.”
The moon, which hasn’t been named yet, was given the provisional name S/2012 (134340) 1, which has been shortened to P5. Pluto already has four moons: Charon, Hydra, Nix, and the unnamed P4. Scientists are holding off naming the fourth and fifth moons of Pluto due to the upcoming New Horizons space probe mission, which has the potential to discover even more moons for Pluto. After all, while the Hubble can see far away, there’s no better vantage point than getting nice and close.