Despite all the breakthroughs space researchers had by now, Pluto remains one little mysterious planet. The more they look into it, the odder the planet seems to be. MSNBC reports that NASA found Pluto is orbited by a new unidentified moon. Scientists say that’s Pluto’s fifth moon NASA’s Hubble telescope caught on record.
This dwarf planet is so far away from human’s reach, scientists know barely anything about it. At least until NASA’s New Horizons will probe the planet. For a planet not only 20 percent the size of our planet, scientists have had a really hard time researching it. But thanks to Hubble, researchers now something to discuss until July 2015’s probe.
Researcher Alan Stern with the Southwest Research Institute said the fifth moon was discovered during NASA’s research of the Pluto system in preparation for the July 2015 mission. “The inventory of the Pluto system we’re taking now with Hubble will help the New Horizons team design a safer trajectory for the spacecraft” reads Alan Stern’s statement.
Pluto’s fifth moon is for now called S/2012 (134340) 1. Shortly, P5. Hubble took 14 sets of pictures of Saturn’s new moon over the past two weeks. According to the Hubble press release, P5 is 6 to 5 miles across and has a circular orbit that keeps it away from Pluto’s other moons.
Researchers are thrilled with the discovery. Harold Weaver, researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said: “The discovery of so many small moons indirectly tells us that there must be lots of small particles lurking unseen in the Pluto system”.
Pluto’s other four moons were discovered in the last six years and come to enforce the theory the planet was once bigger than Mercury, and possibly even the Earth. Researchers know Pluto is 1,455 miles across but based on the planet’s particular orbit and its moons’ sizes, the theory reads the planet might have been a titan planet.
Although the Hubble inventory of Pluto’s system is likely to bring out some more surprises, Showalter believes there’s nothing else that could account for a moon. SETI Institute’s team leader Mark Showalter said: “Of all the things that we looked at, that we thought might be moons, none of them has ever been convincing until this came along”. “There is no P6 in our back pocket at this time” he added.