Pluto is one of many dwarf planets that the solar contains. It is one of the largest kuiper belt objects. It is one of many dwarf planets that cannot be studied with conventional means (telescopes) mainly because the planet is so far away, and due to its faintness, its a hard target for amateur astronomers to study. Like every Ice Dwarf planet, the surface is infected with ice particles and dense rock. This can be easily compared to such objects, for example, the moon.
Pluto was discovered sometime in the early 30's. It was originally considered to be a planet when first discovered. However, this was overturned when the term "planet" was defined Because of this, it is now considered a dwarf planet. Pluto's orbit is not like all the planets in the solar system. In fact, this is the one of many dwarf planets that actually intersects another orbit, notably Neptune's. This is known as an eccentric orbit. Long debates have conspired to wonder if Pluto will ever become part of the Neptunian system.
Pluto has 3 moons: Charon, Nix, and Hydra. Charon is the largest moon Pluto has, and it is thought to have been snagged from the Kuiper belt. There have been long debates on how Charon orbits; many scientists believe that Charon and Pluto orbit each other, in a common center, whilst that goes on, Nix and Hydra orbit around this unique system.
Colonization is an option, but not very promising mainly because of its temperature and distance from Earth. The difficulty is centered around 2 things: the temparature, and power. Due to the distance from the sun, the only power source is nuclear. Terraforming is not an option at the moment. Its hard to say if Pluto will ever be colonized as a planet. Later in the future this might be evident, but when you think heavily about it, the distance that it has from the sun make this planet an unpromising one. With no remarkable features to distinguish it from the other bigger planets, most scientists might shove this planet in the back of their minds. However, this dwarf planet will most likely be used as a waypoint station to help space explorer's venture deeper into the solar system.
New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently en route to Pluto. If all goes well, it will be the first flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon. It was launched January 19th, 2006. It set a record for the fastest object ever to leave Earth. The spacecraft passed Juptier on February 28, 2007, using the gas giants' gravity to increase its speed. It flew by Saturn's orbit on June 8th, 2008 and it expected to reach Pluto on July 14th, 2015. On December 29th, 2009, the spacecraft officially became closer to Pluto than Earth.
Upcoming Mission Dates:
- March 18, 2011 - Pass of Uranus' orbit
- August 24, 2014 - Pass of Neptune's orbit
- July 14, 2015 - Flyby of Pluto and Charon
- 2029 - Probe will leave the solar system