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Pluto Dubbed ‘King Of The Kuiper Belt’

14 Jul 2015, 02:20 UTC
Pluto Dubbed ‘King Of The Kuiper Belt’
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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has made the most precise measurements of Pluto’s size to date.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has put to rest an 85-year-old debate about the true size of Pluto. Using images captured by the spacecraft, mission scientists have determined that Pluto has a diameter of 1,473 miles, making it the largest known object in the Kuiper Belt.

“The size of Pluto has been debated since its discovery in 1930. We are excited to finally lay this question to rest,” mission scientist Bill McKinnon said in a statement.

Previous measurements have put Pluto at 1,430 miles wide, slightly smaller than neighboring dwarf planet Eris. Eris was estimated to be 1,445.3 miles wide, with an accuracy of plus or minus 7.5 miles. Pluto’s latest measurement places it outside the margin of error, making Pluto the undisputed king of the Kuiper Belt.

The Kuiper Belt is a distant region of the solar system made up primarily of icy bodies. Eris, like Pluto, was originally described as a planet upon its discovery. However, Eris’ discovery in 2005 led the International Astronomical Union to define what constitutes a planet and resulted in the creation of a new class of celestial body known ...

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