Some are shared on social media memes with the impressive evolution that our knowledge of Pluto has undergone over the years.
Until 1930, no one knew that this stone existed in the outer confines of the solar system. It is not possible to observe it with the naked eye, and it is so far away that until the twentieth century no one had ever noticed Pluto.
In 1930, seen through telescopes on Earth, Pluto was nothing more than a small point of light insignificant in a sea of other points.
Charon was discovered in 1978. After all, Pluto’s point was a companion. Seen through ground-based telescopes, Charon turned out to be normal.
In 1994, with the Hubble Space Telescope, it was revealed that Pluto was a blur.
And that same year, with the same telescope, it was possible to photograph two diffuse objects together (Pluto and Charon).
In 2005/2006, other satellites were observed in the Pluto system by the Hubble Space Telescope. Yes, Pluto became a “system” in which a set of moons followed Lord Pluto.
The telescope itself has been observing this amazing system from time to time.
In 2010 (not 2013), several images of Pluto from the Hubble Space Telescope were combined and an image of what Pluto’s surface would look like was created.
The image, taken with computer programs, seemed to show a smooth surface, as this was how Pluto looked from afar.
In 2015, the probe We are on the horizon it passed through the Pluto system and suddenly a whole new world opened up to us.
It is now known that Pluto:
– You have at least 5 moons in your mini-system.
– is probably a binary system (with Charon).
– It has a thin layer of atmosphere composed of nitrogen / nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide, which come from the surface.
– has the heart-shaped “Sputnik Planitia” on its surface, which contains sand dunes (in which the sand is made of solid methane ice): this surface of methane ice could be fun for astronaut skiers .
– The other hemisphere of Pluto has more nitrogen / nitrogen ice and carbon monoxide.
– they are more likely to have cryovolcanoes – ice volcanoes – on their surface.
– and it probably has an inner ocean: an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface.
So since 1930, nothing has changed on Pluto.
But for us, it has changed a lot! In less than 100 years, our knowledge of this object in the outer confines of the solar system has changed dramatically.
The fuzzy, irrelevant point that lies far away was surprising: with unimaginable dynamics.
It is now known that Pluto’s system is much more complex than previously thought.
Pluto has an astonishing variety of points of interest, both on its surface and below and around it.
Pluto has become, in Spock’s words, fascinating!