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PLUTO was once considered the ninth and most distant planet from the sun but is now the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system.
But how big is Pluto and how far is it from Earth?
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GettyPluto is the largest known dwarf planet[/caption]
How big is Pluto?
Pluto is the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun.
Pluto is about 1,400 miles wide. That’s about half the width of the United States, or 2/3 the width of Earth’s moon.
Its surface area is roughly the same surface area as Russia.
How long would it take to get to Pluto from Earth?
The planets in the solar system travel in elliptical orbits so their distances are constantly changing.
Pluto is 4.67 billion miles from Earth and at their closest they are 2.66 billion miles apart.
On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft performed a flyby of Pluto, becoming the first and only spacecraft that has been able to do so.
It had launched on January 19, 2006, so the journey lasted nine and a half years.
ReutersAn image of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft[/caption]
How cold does it get on Pluto?
Pluto is far too cold to sustain life as its temperatures are between -228 and -238 C.
The icy planet is one of the coldest places in the solar system so water which is vital for life as we know it is rock-like, according to NASA.
However, its interior is warmer and it is believed there could even be an ocean deep inside.
Why is Pluto no longer a planet?
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) changed the status of Pluto because it did not meet the three criteria the IAU uses to define a full-sized planet.
Pluto meets the two criteria which are to be in orbit around the Sun and to have a sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a nearly round shape).
It does not meet the third criteria as it “has not cleared its neighbouring region of other objects.”
Getty – ContributorPluto is the most distant planet from the sun[/caption]
How many moons does Pluto have?
Pluto has five known moons: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra.
The largest one is Charon which is about half the size of Pluto making it the largest satellite relative to the planet it orbits in our solar system.
Pluto and Charon are often referred to as a “double planet.”
Pluto’s other four moons are much smaller, less than 100 miles wide.