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134340 Pluto

The above image is an artist's impression of 134340 Pluto and Charon.
Since Pluto was stripped of its planetary title and downgraded to a "dwarf planet", it has been given a number, 134340, as is the convention of small bodies such as asteroids.
NASA's New Horizons mission will be the first spacecraft to visit Pluto, but will take ten years to get there and will travel three billion miles.
The probe was launched in january 2006. It will visit Pluto, Charon and the two smaller objects which are in orbit around Pluto.

If the New Horizons probe has enough power left, it will also visit several of the dwarf planets beyond the orbit of Pluto.
Until the 24th of August, 2006, Pluto was known as the ninth planet in the Solar System. But, due to a radical decision by The International Astronomical Union, Pluto has now been stripped of its title. From this day forward, Pluto will be known as a "dwarf planet", as will its major moon, Charon.
Pluto lies at an average distance of 5900 million km from the Sun.
It spins at an inclination of 122 degrees off its axis.
It takes Pluto 90,465 days to orbit the Sun.
Pluto's orbit is so eccentric that its orbit sometimes takes it closer to the Sun than Neptune, but then goes almost two billion kilometres further away than Neptune's orbit.
Pluto takes 6 days, 9 hours and 17 minutes to rotate.
Its diameter is 2374km.
Scientists believe that Pluto could harbour a ring system. Not like the magnificent rings of Saturn but more like the rings of Jupiter or Uranus.
Pluto and its moon, Charon always keep the same face toward each other. Charon's diameter is 1207km.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh and Charon (now labelled as 134340 i) in 1978 by James Christy. Two new moons, Nix and Hydra (now labelled as 134340 ii and 134340 iii) have been detected in orbit around Pluto by the Hubble Space Telescope.
When Pluto was discovered in 1930, it was initially estimated to be larger that the Earth, but its planethood fell into doubt in the 1970s when it became clear that it was in reality smaller than Earth's moon.


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