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Fifth Pluto Moon

12 July, 2012

P5 is the new moon for Pluto, the smallest and farest planet of the Solar System.


 Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)

There is a new moon for Pluto, the smallest and farest planet of the Solar System - according to a lot of astronomers, it is not a 'real' planet. P5 - or S/2012 (134340) 1 - is the name provisionally assigned to the new moon discovered. The Hubble Space Telescope found it and capture in the last weeks with is Wide Field Camera 3. This image belong to the nine separeted set of the NASA images, and was taken on july 7 2012 (the other ones on June 26th, 27th and 29th and july 9). This new object joins Charon, which was discovered in 1978, Nix and Hydra, discovered in 2006, and P4, found in 2011.

The green circle mark the new moon, that is estimated to be irregular in shape and 10 to 25 kilometers across. It is in a 95,000 kilometer-circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to lie with in the same plane as Pluto's other knows moon.The darker stripe in the center of the image is because the picture is constructed from a long exposure designed to capture the comparatively faint satellites of Nix, Hydra, P4 and S/2012 (134340) 1 and a shorter exposure to capture Pluto and Charon, which are much brighter. This new detection will give a support to the scientists in NASA's New Horizons spacecraft navigation through the Pluto system in 2015, when it makes an historic and long-awaited high-speed flyby of the distant world.

The Pluto team members are M. Showalter (SETI Institute, Mountain View), H.A. Weaver (Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore), and S.A. Stern, A.J. Steffl, and M.W. Buie (Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio).

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