A New Horizons image showing Sputnik Planum and adjacent mountains on Pluto from the 2015 flyby by the NASA spacecraft.

Long thought to be the 9th planet, then reclassified in 2006 as a dwarf planet, Pluto is now also honored as the first plutoid. It has an atmosphere and five known moons: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. Since it passed perihelion in 1989, it has been receding from the sun and it was interesting that the atmosphere was still warming when we started observing it in 2002. We are now participating in monitoring the atmosphere’s temperature and density, and even had an occultation just before the flyby that showed conditions there when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft arrived there in 2015.  We continue to work with the MIT group headed by Mike Person and Amanda Bosh, with collaborator Amanda Sickafoose at the South African Astronomical Observatory at MIT, on occultation studies.


Refereed Papers


Popular Treatments

Miscellaneous Information