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Pluto — a Complex and Changing World

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the can-imagine-quite-a-bit dept.

Space 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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191 comments

I know I was shocked to learn that (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030048)

It's not a dog! Why would Disney lie to me?

The real question is... (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030466)

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

Re:The real question is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:The real question is... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030572)

Hmmm. He's certainly not Habilis (handy).

Re:The real question is... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030766)

he's a goat, see?

Re:The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031432)

Goofy may be an evolved line of Canis (Canis sapiens? Canis erectus?), while Pluto is from an older, less developed line (present day Canis lupus familiaris). People keep monkeys for pets. From the perspective of a dissimilar species, maybe like a whale, both humans and pet monkeys might be viewed with similar confusion.

High res? (5, Insightful)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030074)

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

Re:High res? (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030108)

By jove you're right! These photos need to be "enhanced".

Re:High res? (4, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030154)

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.

Re:High res? (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030656)

I think there's a matter of interpretation as far as "sharpest picture yet". The image you reference is "over-exposed" to bring out Pluto's multiple moons. They meant it's the best pic of Pluto's *system*, not Pluto's disk. In other words, "best" depends on what you want to emphasize. The world ain't black and white (pun semi-intended).

Re:High res? (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030796)

True, but it was the closest thing I could find on short notice. The point is that Pluto isn't very many pixels across. Also, I think when they said "best" they were actually talking about the new images, even though they didn't show a picture.

There are a few more pictures here, both from Hubble and ground telescopes: http://www.solarviews.com/eng/pluto.htm [solarviews.com]

It's not quite as simple as "the image is over-exposed." Pluto is dim and small enough to be right at the edge of telescopes' resolving power. Intensity variations across its face are even harder to detect, so it usually looks like either a fuzzy white ball or a fuzzy grey ball.

The images are quite impressive.

Re:High res? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031354)

It is a common practice to over-expose the "main" planet when trying to photograph or detect small moons in the vicinity. It's a technique I've seen many times in astronomy books.

Re:High res? (2, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030168)

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

Based on my experience, all planets look like that from space. And on the surface they all look like southern California.

Re:High res? (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030198)

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

Based on my experience, all planets look like that from space. And on the surface they all look like southern California.

Based on my experience of watching Doctor Who, Blakes 7, etc; all planets look like the quarry next to the BBC studios.

Re:High res? (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030392)

That quarry is time locked. It's a fixed point in time and space, it's a fact !

Unless Rassillon has a backup plan involving finding a ring in a quarry ... no, wait ... they already did that one.

Re:High res? (1)

Aku Head (663933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030460)

Unless you use a Stargate. Then all planets look like a forest outside of Vancouver.

Re:High res? (3, Funny)

frieko (855745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030476)

Except of course for planets which happen to have Stargates or Cylons, all of which look like Vancouver.

Re:High res? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030872)

Adds variety away from the Los Angeles hills look.

Re:High res? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031102)

Why you hatin' on the Gorn rocks?

Mm hmm.. (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031428)

Now is this better... or worse?

Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (3, Funny)

loose electron (699583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030078)

the amateur astronomer understands that Pluto is noting more than an asteroid with a big ego

The attitude gets even bigger when its closer to the sun than Neptune.....

How would you like to be demoted?

Re:Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (3, Informative)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030098)

the amateur astronomer understands that Pluto is noting more than an asteroid with a big ego

"That's no planet... it's an asteroid with a big ego.."

Re:Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (1)

PiAndWhippedCream (1566727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030172)

That's not flying, that's falling with style!

Re:Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (2, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030266)

But that's the trick to flying! All you have to do is fall at the ground and miss! The, er, knack is in the missing part, but nothing we can't handle.

Re:Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (1)

PiAndWhippedCream (1566727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030622)

Considerably easier if the ground is as small as it is on Pluto.

Re:Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030902)

the amateur astronomer understands that Pluto is nothing more than an asteroid with a big ego

There's a Rush Limbaugh + Jupiter joke just waiting to be born....
   

Re:Pluto = Asteroid WIth Attitude and Ego! (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031418)

Also, it appears that once you impersonate a planet for decades and get caught, they blur your face in photos :-P Get it cuz the photo says "faces" of pluto and it's blurry? For every one of you who thought I didn't have to explain it, there's a person who needed it explained lol.

Space porn? (0)

peipas (809350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030092)

I'm sorry, but the photos look like an interracial gangbang to me.

Re:Space porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030160)

God, don't mod him troll, and take a look at the pictures(again).

Re:Space porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030678)

God, don't mod him troll, and take a look at the pictures(again).

90-degrees: Doggie-style, female facing left.
180-degrees: Female riding seated male reverse-cowgirl, fellating a standing male who is facing left.
270 degrees: I'm not sure, but when I see it, brix will be shat.

I hate you.

Re:Space porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030376)

rule 34

Can't wait for a good picture! (4, Informative)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030094)

Five more years until we have a GOOD picture of Pluto. July 14, 2015...can't wait!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Horizons [wikipedia.org]

Re:Can't wait for a good picture! (2, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030434)

Damn, the worlds going to end before then.

Re:Can't wait for a good picture! (0, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030594)

Damn, the worlds going to end before then.

Which one? Did you mean "worlds" or "world's"? In the space age one has to be more specific.
     

Re:Can't wait for a good picture! (4, Informative)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031356)

The data rate from Pluto is expected to be 1000 bits per second. It would take over two years to transfer the entire 8GB buffer at that speed. Granted, New Horizons could send back a 1MB picture in about two hours. But the mission planners have other plans for the immediate flyby. They are going send radio signals from Earth to New Horizons to measure Doppler shift (inferring the gravitational pull and mass of Pluto) and to detect the effect Pluto's atmosphere has on the signal.

Compressed pictures should be available to the public a few days after the flyby. They are expecting the full data set to take nine months.

So for decent pictures you had best revise your estimate:

Five more years until we have a GOOD picture of Pluto. July 14, 2015...can't wait!

July 2015

Re:Can't wait for a good picture! (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031580)

Well, poo! I'm still excited, though.

Re:Can't wait for a good picture! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031648)

James Webb Space Telescope might beat it in giving us "good" pictures of Pluto; assuming it will be launched in 2014, as planned currently. And who knows what Herschel Space Observatory might give us soon, if pointed at Pluto...

At the same time (2, Insightful)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Pluto having seasonal changes is well known (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030124)

These new high-resolution views no doubt provide important new information about Pluto's seasons, but the fact that Pluto undergoes significant seasonal cycles has been known for quite a while. (Here's [google.com] one randomly chosen mention.)

Re:Pluto having seasonal changes is well known (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030190)

the fact that Pluto undergoes significant seasonal cycles has been known for quite a while.

Yeah, don't mess with Pluto. She's been in a bad mood for awhile now. Must be that time of the orbit.

News Flash (3, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030180)

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

i'll grant you pluto is a planet (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030342)

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

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030486)

if you grant me the other seven dwarves are planets: eris, makemake, haumea, sedna, orcus, 2001OR10, quaoar, and the other 100 or so such objects of pluto size likely to be found in the coming decades in the oort cloud

Sure, why wouldn't I be willing to call them planets? Toss in Ceres and Pallas as well.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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".

i just had an epiphany (0, Offtopic)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030706)

this ridiculous argument is a good definition of conservatism versus liberalism, in the abstract

the idea that pluto is a planet or not has absolutely no relevance to anyone's life. it is also a pretty arbitrary and pointless issue: no one has any vested interests here. however, it is memorized as a child, and has a long tradition

therefore, i bet you if you asked a random sample of self-identified conservatives, in any country, they would choose pluto remain a planet. and i would also bet a random sample of self-identified liberals worldwide would choose that pluto not be a planet

because the only issue here is tradition. obsequious unthinking obedience to the past and a dimwitted anxiety at anything new, ie, conservatism, versus forward thinking logic and rationality, aka liberalism

Re:i just had an epiphany (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031302)

That is about the most twisted view of liberal -vs- conservative I have ever heard...

Literally, it is "Liberal", as in "A liberal application of peanutbutter on the bread", and "Conservative", as in "Try to be a bit more conservative of our oxygen supply."

Specifically, as it relates to social welfare. Example: The liberal view is to supply however much money is needed to ensure that no child goes hungry, no matter what the price. The conservative view is to supply enough money that the preponderance of the children do not go hungry, while retaining a tight reign on government spending.

At least in theory.

Recent crops of "Liberals" and "Conservatives" blur these ideological standpoints to the point of being unrecognizable.

Where the "Science VS Religion" meets "Liberal VS Conservative" ball comes into play, is that the liberal takes the view that no amount of tradition or public sentimentality (eg, magical thinking, traditionalism, religious dogma, et al that you seem to rail against in your post above) justifies the slowing of intellectual pursuits and progress; While the conservative takes the view that while the science is incontrovertable, the "The peasants are revolting, and they have torches and pitchforks!" potential of the liberal approach makes it insanely foolish to implement.

This is why the conservative government of the bush administration (Despite its blurred line on deficit war expendature, which was indisputably liberal in the purest sense.) acted the way it did on such "Controversial" issues as the infamous "Stem Cell Research", and "Gay marriage" issues. (Like it or not, a VERY large percentage of the population in the US is against these. You can argue that they are stupid/insane/deluded/brainwashed/whatever until you are blue in the face, it does not change the fact that this is indeed the case.)

In case you were wondering, I am a moderate libertarian. I simply grow very tired of the whole "Liberals are teh UBER! Conservatives are teh SUXX0rZ!" on one side, and the "Lieberals are commies, Conservatives are the Real Americans!(TM)" on the other.

Like any two extremes in a statistical plot, the percentage of the time when a fully liberal or a fully conservative implementation for any given problem actually being necessary/ideal is, by definition, marginal.

For this reason, I see both views as having merits, but blind adherence to either is simply wrong the majority of the time.

Your association of conservatives with being backwards hillbillies, and liberals as being enlightened rationalists is horribly misguided, and frightening from my perspective.

The true rationalist would concede that there are times to be conservative, and times to be liberal, and give reasons for each individual circumstance as it arrises; often creating natural compromises in the process, which places his solutions someplace near the median of the Liberal-Conservative scale.

This is because the true rationalist understands that while something might be true, if that truth would have seriously erosive implications to the current social order, it promises to bring more harm than benefit to blindly enforce it. Better is to slowly allow the social population and mindset to adapt to this newly discovered truth over time, thus reducing total damage and waste of resources.

A good example of this, is Evolution VS Creationism. Evoltionary theory is the best explanation for what we have observed scientifically, and has been proven in a number of test cases. However, it challenges the world-view of a VERY VERY VERY large percentage of the population, and forcing it as an issue would create much social and urban unrest, much like the current situation in Ireland with the Protestants VS the Catholics. This makes it a VERY stupid idea to try and force down the public's collective throats at this moment in time. Instead, as you can see by its slow introduction into the school system, the truth of evolution is being slowly incorporated into the social conciousness, replacing the old framework of divine creationism bit by bit. another such change includes the US's slow, but steady adoption of the metric system.

Your "Liberal" approach to "Forward thinking" would have riots in the streets in short order. A truely conservative approach would have us all still living in the trees. The best way forward, is to balance the two, and do it very very carefully.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (0)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030536)

if you grant me the other seven dwarves are planets: eris, makemake, haumea, sedna, orcus, 2001OR10, and quaoar ... your choice, but the third graders of 2080 who have to memorize 80 planets might not be too happy with you

All of those but Eris are considerably smaller than Pluto. I wouldn't have any problem with Eris being classified as a planet. And it will be a hell of a long time before we find 70 more Pluto-plus-sized objects in the Solar System. Make 1000 km radius (a nice round number) plus hydrostatic equilbrium the cutoff.

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

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (3, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031724)

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:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030556)

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]

Interesting picture.
Pluto is already so small, I suspect that its smaller satellites (Nix and Hydra) are about the size of a golf ball, if that large.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030636)

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

Noooooo, if your classification system is too open, imagine all the weird names kids would have to memorize in school for Solar System Week. The only funny one used to be "Uranus".

Well, on the bright side, one's chance of getting stuck with Uranus goes down from 1/9th to 1/16th.
       

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (2, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030666)

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?

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030750)

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

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031776)

But our language and terminology exists to facilitate exchange of ideas. Any term which encompasses so many so different bodies looses most of any usable meaning.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (3, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030950)

Well, Pluto does seem to have the biggest satellite. If we wanted to maintain tradition and keep Pluto a planet, this might just be the fudge factor we need.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031738)

So Mercury, Venus and perhaps Mars are not planets?

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031796)

Well, I'm not trying to make a rubric for determining what is or isn't a planet; I'm trying to figure out some set of rules whereby we could keep the canonical nine planets.

According to this graph [wikipedia.org] , doing non-satellites by mass puts only Eris ahead of Pluto. Maybe we could just throw Eris in, and cut it off at Pluto.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (4, Informative)

Beowabbit (306889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030980)

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

Once upon a time, students had to memorize only four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Nowadays we recognize over a hundred, and there are a bunch of theoretical ones we can predict but have a hard time detecting. I don’t think “but people will have a hard time remembering them all, so we have to add arbitrary limit so that we don’t have so many” is a very good way of defining terms.

I can see a good argument for saying that the solar system contains four planets and some rubble. I can see an argument for saying that it contains over a dozen planets, probably way over. I can see a good argument for saying that it consists tens of thousands of planets. I can see a good argument for saying that “planet” is not a piece of scientific terminology and letting lay usage define it.

I can see an argument, although not a great one, for coming up with a definition that keeps the number down to a dozen, but I think the definition the IAU came up with is pretty ambiguous, since “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” is clearly relative, and you could define “cleared”, “neighbourhood”, and “around” in such a way that Ceres has done it (admittedly a stretch), or that Jupiter hasn’t. (There’s also the matter of “has” — do things that weren’t planets early in the history of the solar system become planets as time passes and they collect impacts?) And the IAU definition explicitly excludes anything that orbits around any star other than our sun, which to my mind makes it just silly, and means that a sizable fraction of the astronomical community is concerned with studying planets (and publishing papers calling them planets) that do not meet the IAU definition.

Incidentally, once upon a time, any new thing discovered in orbit in the solar system other than the sun was considered a planet, so the moon, the moons of Jupiter, and the asteroids (the few then known) would all have been considered planets. If you exclude dust particles and the like, that’s still a reasonable definition for the sorts of things that “planetary scientists” study, and personally I kind of like that approach.

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031760)

Too broad a definition and it looses any meaning.

Besides, don't forget so conveniently that, apart from "planet" and "dwarf planet" distinction, there's also "terrestrial planet", "gas giant planet", "ice giant planet"...

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031424)

What, no Ceres?

Re:i'll grant you pluto is a planet (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031606)

You know, you'd have that damn movie finished by now if you didn't spend so much time on /.

Re:News Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030408)

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

Where they screwed up. They should have established three classes of planets, Gas Giants, Rocky planets like Earth, and smaller ice planets. Instead of removing a planet they simply would have added one or two. What makes an ice planet? Large enough to have enough gravity to take on a round shape and orbits the Sun. The defining thing needs to be mass and orbiting the Sun. If the Earth orbited Jupiter it'd be a Moon. It's the only solution that makes sense. Saying an icy body can't be a planet means that there is a limit to how much water a planet can have and/or if it has water it has to orbit the goldielocks zone. That's a poor definition but currently it fits. Say there's an Earth sized planet orbiting near Pluto that is 90% water and the rest rock and metals. Is that a planet? They've already found a planet several Earth's in size that may be mostly water. No one has said it can't be a planet.

Re:News Flash (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030440)

Yes it is a planet, a dwarf planet. Things change.

Re:News Flash (4, Funny)

iceborer (684929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030514)

You seem a little down; perhaps your humors are imbalanced. A good leeching should fix that right up!

Re:News Flash (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030680)

To settle this, let's borrow from the IT field and classify orbs as super-planets, mainframe-planets, mini-planets, micro-planets, and iPlanets. Done!

tux head? (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030212)

am I the only one who sees a blurry tux face in the 180 photo?

Re:tux head? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030246)

You missed the naked woman?

Re:tux head? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031372)

You missed the naked woman?

This is slashdot; we are used to that by now.
   

Re:tux head? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030432)

4 years for that... i could have painted something way better with gimp and noone would have noticed the difference...

Re:tux head? (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030582)

Uh... That's not a Rorschach test.

Re:tux head? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031680)

We have a proof!

When can we have google pluto (1)

spribyl (175893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030254)

Nuf said

Pluto is not a planet, just a large asteroid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030296)

Pluto is not a planet, just a large asteroid the size of other asteroids at that distance from the star by the name sun.

There are four planets. (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030418)

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.

Re:There are four planets. (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030592)

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

Re:There are four planets. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031552)

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

So, the solar system is an office?

Re:There are four planets. (1)

FCAdcock (531678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030976)

You're right... Because Earth is WAY to small to hold any of that hydrogen stuff...

Re:There are four planets. (4, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031186)

You're right... Because Earth is WAY to small to hold any of that hydrogen stuff...

Jupiter: 89% Hydrogen
Saturn: 96% Hydrogen
Uranus: 83% Hydrogen
Neptune: 80% Hydrogen
Earth: 0.0021% Hydrogen

Yeh, pretty much.

Re:Pluto is not a planet, just a large asteroid... (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030734)

The whole scheme is arbitrary. The term "planet" was only nailed down [wikipedia.org] in 2006, and of course it's going to take people time to adjust to the rigorous definition.

I'm not sure how useful the classification is anyway. The differences between Mercury and Jupiter are greater than the differences between Mercury and Pluto. Earth is more different still than any of the three with its complex and varied forms of life.

I think the astronomers should use their definition, and I suppose it ought to be taught in schools for the sake of consistency (though I question the value of making kids memorize the planets in the first place), but it's really not a big deal what you call it.

Re:Pluto is not a planet, just a large asteroid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031790)

The term "planet" was only nailed down [wikipedia.org] in 2006, and of course it's going to take people time to adjust to the rigorous definition.

If you read your own fucking link, you would know it is hardly "nailed down": Half the article is the "acceptance" issue and known controversies (of a scientific nature). Half the fucking article! And "rigorous"? Hardly, it is the exact opposite of that. They would have been better advised to pick a radius Pluto can't meet but Mercury does (e.g., 2000 km radius). This would satisfy the international group of America haters.

... but it's really not a big deal what you call it.

It was sufficiently big of a deal that you defend it, that a fraction of the IAU gang-banged the issue.

Classifications are supposed to have an arbitrary nature. This is why someone 17 years and 11 months is a minor however "sprouted" they might be and an 18 year old is not (even if barely pubescent). There are dwarf planets, planets, and the subset of planets known as gas giants. Other subsets might be those approaching brown dwarfs or not quite gas giants (maybe the "water worlds"). Do you think these will be classifid by "clearing some fucking orbit"? There existence after billions of years of galactic evolution is suffient evidence of having cleared something. No, the future will classify planets by SIZE - S * I * Z * E - not this hackjob the IAU came up with at the last second to avoid looking like stinking racists.

GAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030368)

"From Earth, the disk of Pluto is ten times smaller than the typical resolution limit of a ground-based telescope."

"Ten times smaller?"

Re:GAH! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030854)

That sounds about right. Earth scopes can barely make out features on even Neptune's atmosphere (although adaptive optics seem to be making rapid progress).

Classification (3, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030414)

It turns out that this far-flung world has more in common with Earth than we would have ever imagined.

Should we maybe think of classifying Pluto as a real planet?

Because... (1)

astroengine (1577233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030496)

...planets have surfaces. Pluto has a surface, therefore it's a planet.

Re:Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030818)

And Jupiter (and most likely Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) don't, so they're not planets.

Re:Classification (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030738)

[Earth-like features] Should we maybe think of classifying Pluto as a real planet?

There are moons with complex surfaces also, such as Titan, Europa, Io, Enceladus, etc. Having complex or dynamic surfaces is not unique to planets.
   

Another Earth(like)? (4, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030470)

"...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.

Re:Another Earth(like)? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030628)

Is it asshattery or douchebaggery? That's an important distinction.

Re:Another Earth(like)? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030690)

I believe it would be shenanigans .

Re:Another Earth(like)? (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030942)

I don't know any of this surprises you. Media outlets are very Businesslike. Like businesses, they are driven to be Profitlike. You make profit by maximising your income (none, or maybe banner clicks) while minimising your expenses (lights, power, reporters' salaries).

Thus, we have "no truth in advertising - nor in news media."

Re:Another Earth(like)? (1, Interesting)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031620)

Minor nitpick, Pluto's seasons are primarily driven by its highly elliptical orbit.

Sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31030610)

Any Mi-Go spotted yet?

What about Makemake ? Eris ? Haumea ? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030630)

Pluto is not the only large body out there - Makemake, Haumea and Eris, among others, are just as large or larger [wikipedia.org] , and also have signs of changes on their surface, but don't have the "planetary" history and don't get nearly the attention.

So did they find... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31030662)

the alien base [wikipedia.org] ?

Eh...hem... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031002)

If you watch that little slide show, you see.....Asia, Europe, Africa, and then the Americas - they could have tried a bit harder if all they were doing was shuffling out a fake....geeesh.

You FAIL 1t? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031088)

dead. It is a dead [samag.com] in the Problems that I'vE it there. Bring

heeey, wait a second... (1)

jbuck (579032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31031264)


heeey, wait a second... that looks just like a planet I went to grade school with!

.

what about the big ass artifact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031330)

they get a good look at the charon mass relay?

YUO FAwIL IT! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31031690)

all p;arties it's be treated by your dIsappearing up its Trouble. It Ink splashes across in our group bunch of retarded NIGGER community ME! It's official
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