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Space Science

Pluto — a Complex and Changing World 191

astroengine writes "After 4 years of processing the highest resolution photographs the Hubble Space Telescope could muster, we now have the highest resolution view of Pluto's surface ever produced. Most excitingly, these new observations show an active world with seasonal changes altering the dwarf planet's surface. It turns out that this far-flung world has more in common with Earth than we would have ever imagined."
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Pluto — a Complex and Changing World

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  • High res? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XPeter (1429763) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:00PM (#31030074) Homepage

    Is it just me, or do the photos look like a big blob of yellows and grays?

  • At the same time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ascari (1400977) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:06PM (#31030110)
    It's not just the seasons that change: In those four years Pluto has gone from being a planet to not being a planet to being a planet again to being kind of a planet... Complex and changing indeed.
  • News Flash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:17PM (#31030180) Journal

    Pluto IS a planet. It was a planet when I was in school, so it will always be a planet, dadgummit.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @10:45PM (#31030342) Homepage Journal

    if you grant me the other seven dwarves are planets: eris, makemake, haumea, sedna, orcus, 2001OR10, and quaoar

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/EightTNOs.png [wikimedia.org]

    and the other 100 or so such objects of pluto size likely to be found in the coming decades in the oort cloud

    or keep it easy and say its not a planet

    your choice, but the third graders of 2080 who have to memorize 80 planets might not be too happy with you

    face it, pluto is chump change

  • by argent (18001) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:00PM (#31030418) Homepage Journal

    The solar system only has four planets worth distinguishing, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The rest of the objects in the solar system are too small to retain significant hydrogen and can be dismissed.

  • by argent (18001) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:08PM (#31030466) Homepage Journal

    If Pluto's a dog, then what's the deal with Goofy?

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:08PM (#31030470) Journal

    "...more in common with Earth than we would have ever imagined."

    If this is going to be along the lines of the the "Earthlike" exoplanets, it means something like Pluto has a surface, and probably some elements.

    Why is it every planet that's not obviously entirely unlike Earth is "Earthlike"? Are we really that desperate for a refuge should we ruin this planet completely?

    Hell no. Most people with even a slight interest and modest education know better, and don't try to make a point anything like that. No, these asinine statements are almost invariably made by 'science journalists' which are rapidly becoming less and less of both of those. They know they can't keep your interest recounting the bare facts so they have to come up with some bullshit that they're probably not even aware how bag of hammers stoopid it sounds. Pluto has an axial tilt, therefore it has seasons... like Earth. Sure, seasons with an average summer of 60 degrees Kelvin and winters at 30 Kelvin. How very Earthlike.

    See, there's a downside to all these magazines and other media making stuff available on the net. Since they're making it available for free, they're not making anything directly from them, so they have nothing to lose by making them crap. Then they can get you to subscribe for the better stuff. In theory. Rather than paying some real and knowledgeable science journalists, or even specialists in that field, to write better material, they go the cheap route and use the same mediocre hacks for their print versions as for their e-versions.

    So, naturally Pluto is Earthlike. It's because the source is Sciencelike. Sure, and those writers' and editors' asses are Hatlike.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:13PM (#31030500)

    How many continents are there?

    There's no reason why we can't just say "there are nine planets in the solar system, it's a historical definition, get used to it".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:19PM (#31030544)

    If Pluto's a dog, then what's the deal with Goofy?

    The answer is simple Pluto is a dog, and Goofy is a dog erectus.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:25PM (#31030592) Homepage Journal

    Yep. You could also say that the Solar System consists of one star, one failed star, and a bunch of other junk.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:37PM (#31030666) Journal
    the third graders of 2080 who have to memorize 80 planets might not be too happy with you

    If it is important you'll know... if not? Meh.

    How many of the 117 elements can you name?

    How many C-List Hollywood celebrities can you name? How much SF trivia do you know?
  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @11:51PM (#31030750)

    The solar system does not exist to make things easier for third graders. If there are 80 planets, then so be it.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Friday February 05, 2010 @02:00AM (#31031724) Homepage

    They are nowhere near "considerably" smaller than Pluto. Than Earth, maybe.

    The "cleared its neighborhood" definition is absurd, since by that definition Earth is not a planet.

    And that is simply not true (have you even read the definition?). Earth very much cleared it's neighbourhood; bodies in its vicinity are completelly dominated by its gravitation.

  • Re:Because... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imakemusic (1164993) on Friday February 05, 2010 @05:48AM (#31032712)

    Awesome! That means my desk is a planet as well!

  • by khallow (566160) on Friday February 05, 2010 @07:40AM (#31033146)

    or keep it easy and say its not a planet

    What's the scientific justification? I could care less about the troubles of third graders of 2080. May their tongues freeze on the 2080 analogue of the ice-cold flag pole.

    Here's my complaint with the 2006 IAU definition.

    1) "Planet" is poorly defined. "Clears the neighborhood" needs to be defined and should have been back in 2006.
    2) It abuses the English language. For some odd reason, "dwarf planets" are not considered "planets". That is not how adjectives in the English language are supposed to be used and will just increase the confusion among laypeople.
    3) The definition fails to extend to any other star system with planets (excuse me, exoplanets). Any attempt to use a "clears the neighborhood" definition would lead to stupidity since you'd have to determine most of the dynamical characteristics of a star system in order to avoid the unpleasant label "probable planet". And what happens when (not if, when) you have a Jupiter-mass exoplanet that is in a resonance orbit with a much larger planet or brown dwarf? A "dwarf planet" (since that's what's left for labels in the Solar System).
    4) People who claim that this process exemplifies in any way a genuine scientific process should be embarrassed. Any of the prior three points rules that out.

  • Re:High res? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 05, 2010 @02:14PM (#31037022)

    Considering it normally looks like this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100204-pluto-hubble-best-pictures/ [nationalgeographic.com], those blobs of yellow and grays are pretty impressive.

    Picture in the Nat Geo article is quite the same picture as the one in the Discovery article; I'm assuming you pasted the wrong link (why it has +5 informative then, I don't know.. even a casual glance would reveal both the first article and your link relate to and show the same pictures)

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