Pluto Facts: 32 Facts About Pluto [The Dwarf Planet]

Pluto is a dwarf planet and not a full-sized planet. Today, with these 32 facts about Pluto (the first Kuiper Belt object to be discovered,) let us learn more about it.

1. Discovery: Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.

Clyde_W._Tombaugh
Clyde W. Tombaugh. Image credit – Wikipedia

2. Reclassification: Pluto was reclassified as a Dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union. It is called a dwarf planet because of its small size and lack of enough capability to clear debris and object out of its path around the sun.

3. In 2003, a new object beyond Pluto was discovered by an astronomer — Michael Brown. After the discovery of this new object – Eris – astronomers pondered upon the characteristics that make an object in the sky “a planet”. And they came to a conclusion that Pluto shall be classified as a Dwarf planet henceforth.

4. Called an asteroid: on September 7, 2006, Pluto was assigned the asteroid number 134340 by the Minor Planet Center.

5. Pluto’s gravity: if one weighed 100 pounds on Earth, they would weigh only 7 pounds on Pluto – that’s how weak the planet’s gravity is as compared to that of the Earth.

Pluto by NASA
This image of Pluto was taken on July 13, 2015, when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. CREDIT: NASA/APL/SwRI

6. Research: the Hubble Space Telescope is playing a key role in providing interesting and important information about Pluto.

7. Far away: if you compare, the distance between Pluto and the Sun is 40 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

8. Kuiper Belt: the orbit of Pluto lies in the Kuiper Belt. There are many other small icy worlds in this region, which are also known as ‘transneptunian objects’ or ‘Kuiper Belt objects.’

PlanetLength of Day
Mercury1408 hours
Venus5832 hours
Earth24 hours
Mars25 hours
Jupiter10 hours
Saturn11 hours
Uranus17 hours
Neptune16 hours

9. Five moons: Pluto has five moons – Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx.

10. Pluto vs earth’s Moon: Pluto is 2/3rd the diameter of Earth’s moon and its mass is 1/6th the mass of Earth’s moon.

11. Round the Sun: Pluto takes 248 Earth years to revolve around the Sun. This is the longest orbit time among other planets.

12. Elliptical orbit: Pluto has an elliptical orbit and hence when it is closest to the Sun, its ice changes to gaseous form and forms a thin atmosphere over the planet. Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, takes around 6.4 Earth days to complete a revolution around the planet.

13. Day’s length: one day on Pluto is also 6.4 Earth days.

14. One of the moons – Charon: Charon is tidally locked to Pluto, meaning that its same side faces Pluto all the while both the bodies revolve in the outer space.

15. Distance from the Sun: Pluto can be as far as 49.3 AU from the Sun in its elliptical orbit where it takes 248 years to complete a revolution around the Sun.

16. Named after: Pluto is named after the Greek god of the underworld.

17. How big? Pluto is smaller than the Earth’s moon and is half as wide as the United States.

18. Water or ice? Pluto has a lot of water in the form of ice. The amount of this water contained on the planet is almost thrice the amount reserved in all the Earth’s oceans.

19. Missions to Pluto: There has been only one mission to Pluto until now.

20. Inside Pluto: it is suspected by the scientists that Pluto has a rocky core which is surrounded by a mantle of water ice.

21. Big dents on the planet’s surface: craters as large as 260 km in diameter have been seen on Pluto.

22. Pressure: the pressure on the Earth’s surface is 100,000 times greater than that on Pluto’s.

23. Naming the planet: Pluto is the only planet named by an 11-year-old English girl — Venetia Burney. It was named so in 1930. The girl was awarded 5 pounds as a reward for suggesting the name.

24. Life? as per the data that has been gathered from Pluto, scientists believe that existence of life is not possible on the planet.

25. Spectroscopy: this technique of analysis of light is used to uncover strange and unknown facts about Pluto.

26. Sunlight: due to the enormous distance between Pluto and the Sun, the sunlight takes almost 5 hours to reach Pluto. And it takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth.

27. Pluto in chemistry: Plutonium, a transuranic radioactive element, was named after Pluto. Prior to its naming, Uranium was named after Uranus, and Neptunium after Neptune.

28. NASA: NASA launched a spacecraft named New Horizons, which is about the size of a piano to study Pluto. It is also the first spacecraft to flyby Pluto.

29. Elements on Pluto: scientists have estimated that water might be in existence between the rocky core of Pluto and its thick outer layer of ice. It is also believed that the planet’s water should also be containing biogenic elements like: carbon, hydrogen, calcium, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, and iron.

30. The absence of Oxygen: no traces of oxygen has been detected on Pluto yet.

31. Intensity of the Sun: during the daytime, the Sun would be 1/900 times dimmer on Pluto than full daylight on Earth.

32. Direction of rotation: Pluto, like Venus and Neptune, rotates backward, i.e from east to west. The planet also rotates on its side.

Quick facts about Pluto

Discovered byClyde Tombaugh
Date of DiscoveryFebruary 18th, 1930
Mass13,090,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Surface Area16,647,940 square km
Equatorial Inclination122.5 degrees (retrograde rotation)
Mean Orbit Velocity16,809 km/h
Surface Temperatureminus 233 to minus 223 °C
Equatorial Circumference7,231.9 km
Volume6,387,259,783 cubic km
Orbit Size Around Sun5,906,440,628 km
Escape Velocity4,428 km/h
Density2.050 gram per cubic centimeter
Equatorial Radius1,151 km
Surface Gravity0.66 meter per second square