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60秒科学:Pluto Bids to Get Back Planetary Status


60秒科学节目(SSS)是科学美国人网站的一套广播栏目,英文名称:Scientific American – 60 Second Science,节目内容以科学报道为主,节目仅一分钟的时间,主要对当今的科学技术新发展作以简明、通俗的介绍,对于科学的发展如何影响人们的生活环境、健康状况及科学技术,提供了大量简明易懂的阐释。
Poor little Pluto.In 2006 astronomers ganged up on it and voted to strip it of its planethood, but other astronomers signed a petitionsaying they’d ignore that vote.

Now Pluto itself seems to be fighting back. Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we’ve learned that Pluto has at least five moons, pretty impressive for something that’s supposedly not a planet.

And new research suggests Pluto is just what we were taughtlong ago:the largest world orbiting the sun beyond Neptune.

In 2005 astronomers discovered Pluto’s greatest rival, Eris. It’s three times farther from the sun than Pluto. And Eris was thought to be bigger than Pluto, too. But that initial estimate may have been wrong.

Other astronomers have now analyzed methane in Pluto’s air. Yup, Pluto has an atmosphere, again, pretty impressive for something that’s supposedly not a planet, and the methane suggests Pluto is about 1,471 miles across, versus just 1,445 miles across for Eris. The new study appears in the journal Icarus.

We’ll find out its exact diameter in July 2015, when NASA’s first spacecraft to Pluto zips by. It’ll take lots of pictures, probably find more moons and hopefully tell us whether Pluto is indeed the king of the underworld. I mean, of the solar system beyond Neptune.

–written by Ken Croswell, voiced by Steve Mirsky


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