Pluto & the Dwarf Planets

Kid's drawing of a rocket on a planet.
It's fun to imagine landing on Pluto. In real life, the rest of our solar system would look like stars from the surface of distant Pluto.

King of the Dwarf Planets

Pluto is a dwarf planet. For a long time, it was called our solar system's ninth planet. But when scientists found more places like it far, far out in the solar system, they voted to call them all dwarf planets.

PLUTO CHALLENGE
Do you think Pluto is a planet?
Write an story or draw a poster
to support your opinion.
Color image of Pluto and its moons.

Dwarf planets are bigger than asteroids and comets, but not as big as planets. Dwarf planets orbit our sun just like planets. They are sort of round like planets. Some dwarf planets even have moons. But dwarf planets have more nearby neighbors in the same orbit around the sun than the planets do.

Most of the dwarf planets are far away -- even farther than Neptune. There may be more than a 100 dwarf planets out there waiting to be discovered. But one dwarf planet, Ceres, is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres used to be called an asteroid.

The dwarf planets are so small and so far away they are difficult to see -- even with powerful telescopes. Even the best pictures are very fuzzy. We can only guess what the surface of Pluto and other dwarf planets look like. Some might be covered in ice. Imagine a giant skating rink.

WHAT'S IT LIKE ON PLUTO?
Cold. How cold? Imagine a world so chilly that even the air can freeze and fall like snow. Brrrr. From Pluto, our sun would look like a very bright star. There is no air to breathe on Pluto, so you would need a spacesuit to explore.


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