Pluto is the brightest dwarf planet that is located in the Kuiper belt, a ring of small icy bodies outside the
orbit of Neptune. It was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Pluto was "classically" known as the ninth planet until 2006 when the International Astronomical Union set up new
guidelines for qualifications of a planet. Pluto didn't meet all the qualifications and is now considered a dwarf planet.
Pluto averages an astounding distance of 3,670,050,000 miles from the Sun. It is very small 1500 miles in diameter,
placing it even smaller than seven of the moons found in the solar system.
It has been determined that Pluto has a bright layer of methane, nitrogen and carbon monoxide ice near the surface with 70% rock
and 30% water ice mostly underneath in its bulk composition.
Some of the detail that is visible on Pluto is the presence of polar ice caps as well as large dark spots
near the equator. The surface temperature of Pluto varies between -391°F and -346°F. The "warmer" temperatures
loosely correspond to the darker areas. Pluto has five known satellites, the largest of which is Charon.
Charon's diameter is over half the diameter of Pluto, making Charon the biggest moon with respect to the planet it orbits.
Because of this, Pluto is often referred to as a double planet.
A new mission called New Horizons was launched in 2006 and flew by Pluto in July 2015, and is providing a spectacular increase in
knowledge about Pluto with ongoing images and data being transmitted back to Earth expected through 2016.
This view is constructed mostly from New Horizons images.
Some of the southern hemisphere is filled in by previous imagery taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto, flying by so quickly that there wasn't any time for all of Pluto to rotate into view. Thus some longitudes are seen only at lower resolution from a greater distance. Also, much of the southern latitudes are in winter darkness, and it will take a century or so for them to be well seen.
When Pluto is closest to the sun some of the frozen gases sublimate and create a very thin atmosphere. A deep but tenuous haze
layer extends up to 60-100 miles above the surface. With the very cold temperatures
present, ices of substances such as nitrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, and water ice cover the surface.
Some of the mountainous areas may be made of water ice, and the white heart-shaped region called Tombaugh Regio has areas of carbon monoxide ice and
some of the flattest terrain seen. This has a provisional name of Sputnik Planum and shows evidence of flowing ices.
A dark "Whale" shaped feature (provisionally called Cthulu Regio) wraps around Pluto to the lower left (southwest) of the "Heart".
C2 Cause and Effect. Students learn that events have causes that generate observable patterns. They design simple tests to gather evidence to support or refute their own ideas about causes.
C4 Systems and System Models. Students understand objects and organisms can be described in terms of their parts; and systems in the natural and designed world have parts that work together.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students routinely identify and test causal relationships and use these relationships to explain change. They understand events that occur together with regularity might or might not signify a cause and effect relationship
C4 Systems and System Models. Students understand that a system is a group of related parts that make up a whole and can carry out functions its individual parts cannot. They can also describe a system in terms of its components and their interactions.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students classify relationships as causal or correlational, and recognize that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. They use cause and effect relationships to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. They also understand that phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.
C3 Scale Proportion and Quantity. Students observe time, space, and energy phenomena at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small. They understand phenomena observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale, and the function of natural and designed systems may change with scale. They use proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) to gather information about the magnitude of properties and processes. They represent scientific relationships through the use of algebraic expressions and equations
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can understand that systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. They can use models to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. They can also learn that models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.
C1 Patterns. Students observe patterns in systems at different scales and cite patterns as empirical evidence for causality in supporting their explanations of phenomena. They recognize classifications or explanations used at one scale may not be useful or need revision using a different scale; thus requiring improved investigations and experiments. They use mathematical representations to identify certain patterns and analyze patterns of performance in order to re-engineer and improve a designed system.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students understand that empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and to make claims about specific causes and effects. They suggest cause and effect relationships to explain and predict behaviors in complex natural and designed systems. They also propose causal relationships by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. They recognize changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.
C3 Scale Proportion and Quantity. Students understand the significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. They recognize patterns observable at one scale may not be observable or exist at other scales, and some systems can only be studied indirectly as they are too small, too large, too fast, or too slow to observe directly. Students use orders of magnitude to understand how a model at one scale relates to a model at another scale. They use algebraic thinking to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn that the total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. They can describe changes of energy and matter in a system in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. They also learn that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems. In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. Patterns of movement of the sun, moon, and stars as seen from Earth can be observed, described, and predicted
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. Patterns of movement of the sun, moon, and stars as seen from Earth can be observed, described, and predicted
ESS2.D Weather & Climate. Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region and time. People record weather patterns over time
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. In a region, some kinds of severe weather are more likely than others. Forecasts allow communities to prepare for severe weather.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. Stars range greatly in size and distance from Earth and this can explain their relative brightness.
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. The Earth’s orbit and rotation, and the orbit of the moon around the Earth cause observable patterns.
ESS2.D Weather & Climate. Climate describes patterns of typical weather conditions over different scales and variations. Historical weather patterns can be analyzed so that they can make predictions about what kind of weather might happen next.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. A variety of hazards result from natural processes; humans cannot eliminate hazards but can reduce their impacts.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. The effect of unbalanced forces on an object results in a change of motion. Patterns of motion can be used to predict future motion. Some forces act through contact, some forces act even when the objects are not in contact. The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth’s surface pulls that object toward the planet’s center
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Moving objects contain energy. The faster the object moves, the more energy it has. Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects, or through sound, light, or electrical currents. Energy can be converted from one form to another form.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. The universe began with a period of extreme and rapid expansion known as the Big Bang. Earth and its solar system are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe.
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. The solar system contains many varied objects held together by gravity. Solar system models explain and predict eclipses, tides, lunar phases, and seasons.
ESS2.D Weather & Climate. Complex interactions determine local weather patterns and influence climate, including the role of the ocean.
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region and understanding related geological forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and severe weather.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. The role of the mass of an object must be qualitatively accounted for in any change of motion due to the application of a force.
PS2.B Types of Interactions. Forces that act at a distance involve fields that can be mapped by their relative strength and effect on an object.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. Kinetic energy can be distinguished from the various forms of potential energy. Energy changes to and from each type can be tracked through physical or chemical interactions. The relationship between the temperature and the total energy of a system depends on the types, states, and amounts of matter.
PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces. When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other, and these forces can transfer energy between them.
ESS1.A The Universe and its Stars. The sun is just one of more than 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. The study of stars’ light spectra and brightness is used to identify compositional elements of stars, their movements, and their distances from Earth.
ESS1.B Earth and the Solar System. Kepler’s laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects. Observations from astronomy and space probes provide evidence for explanations of solar system formation. Changes in Earth’s tilt and orbit cause climate changes such as Ice Ages
ESS2.D Weather & Climate. The role of radiation from the sun and its interactions with the atmosphere, ocean, and land are the foundation for the global climate system. Global climate models are used to predict future changes, including changes influenced by human behavior and natural factors
ESS3.B Natural Hazards. Natural hazards and other geological events have shaped the course of human history at local, regional, and global scales. Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.
PS2.A Forces and Motion. Newton’s 2nd law (F=ma) and the conservation of momentum can be used to predict changes in the motion of macroscopic objects.
PS2.B Types of Interactions. Forces at a distance are explained by fields that can transfer energy and can be described in terms of the arrangement and properties of the interacting objects and the distance between them. These forces can be used to describe the relationship between electrical and magnetic fields.
PS3.A Definitions of Energy. The total energy within a system is conserved. Energy transfer within and between systems can be described and predicted in terms of energy associated with the motion or configuration of particles (objects).
PS3.C Relationship between energy and forces. Fields contain energy that depends on the arrangement of the objects in the field.