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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 4, 2006 19:07:18 GMT -6
Pluto colder than originally thought
Now, for the first time, Smithsonian astronomers using the Submillimeter Array (SMA) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii have taken direct measurements of thermal heat from both worlds and found that Pluto is indeed colder than expected, colder even than Charon.
It found that the temperature of the ice-covered surface of Pluto was about 43 K (-382 degrees F) instead of the expected 53 K (-364 degrees F), as on nearby Charon.
Why though does Pluto have a lower temperature than Charon? Despite the mechanism offered in this article, it ought to operate the same for either body. If the heat needed for sublimation of nitrogen cools Pluto ten degrees, then it should also cool Charon. Since Charon is warmer, we're still left with a mystery. The assumption that the structure of both objects is the same might be invalid, with Charon lacking the nitrogen that Pluto has.
If the universe is a ball the size of America, then the solar system is almost as large as the smallest cell in the human body.