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Via: The Verge
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It took nine years and 3 billion miles, but at 7:49 a.m. EST the New Horizons spacecraft passed what was once the furthest planet in our solar system.

Traveling at a speed of 30,800 miles per hour, New Horizons zoomed by Pluto a scant 7,800 miles away. This is the closest we have ever got to Pluto and it will send back some of the best images of the maligned dwarf planet we have ever seen. Maybe this will convince those scientists to let it back into the club and give us the nine planets that we deserve.

But we've learned a lot so far. For instance, now we know how big the dang thing is.

This morning, NASA announced that Pluto is 2,370km (about 1,473 miles) in diameter, give or take 20m. That makes it ever so slightly bigger than Eris, a much darker and denser object that lives farther out in the Kuiper Belt. (Eris measures 2,336km in diameter.) Measurements of Pluto's size before today were estimates at best, their accuracy skewed by the dwarf planet's hazy atmosphere.



We've also learned that Pluto has a pretty big ice cap, filled with lots of nitrogen and frozen methane. (I could've told you the place was cold nine years ago.)

Since this mission happened billions of miles away and it takes four hours for the radio waves New Horizon sends us to be uploaded, we shouldn't expect to see any pictures filled with happy, waving aliens until tonight.

Also, by the way, the download speed on that information is 1 Kb/s. Dialup hell.



Here's a video explaining the delicacy and scale of this Pluto flyby:



As we got closer to the dwarf planet, however, all anyone could see was the image of Mickey Mouse's dog, carefully hidden within the terrain.

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...one of Einstein's weirder ideas has led to the identification of a new planet, about twice as massive as Jupiter, orbiting a star some 2,000 light-years from Earth — a discovery Einstein never even envisioned but one that may never have happened without him. Indeed, David Latham, a Harvard astronomer who collaborated on the discovery, originally doubted it was even possible to do what he (under Einstein's guiding hand) recently succeeded in doing. "I thought it was silly," he say

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This video explains the difference between a planet, like Earth, and a dwarf planet, like Pluto. 

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By Unknown
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Made up of rock and iron, this planet is thought to be tidally locked to it's parent star (meaning one side always faces the star), it is also much closer to it's host star than the Earth is to the Sun. This means that the "day" side of the planet is always molten, and that's just awesome.

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Scanning the heavens, you might very well miss the star Kepler-62. It's a rather typical star, slightly smaller, cooler, and more orange than the Sun, much like tens of billions of other stars in our galaxy. But it holds a surprise: It's orbited by at least five planets… and two of them are Earth-sized and orbit the star in its habitable zone!
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