Global Warming on Pluto

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10 Apr 07

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Global Warming on Pluto

9 Oct 02 - Astronomers today said Pluto is undergoing global warming in its thin atmosphere even as it moves farther from the Sun on its long, odd-shaped orbit.

Pluto's atmospheric pressure has tripled over the past 14 years, indicating a stark temperature rise, the researchers said. The change is likely a seasonal event, much as seasons on Earth change as the hemispheres alter their inclination to the Sun during the planet's annual orbit.

They suspect the average surface temperature increased about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or slightly less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Pluto remains a mysterious world whose secrets are no so easily explained, however. The warming could be fueled by some sort of eruptive activity on the small planet, one astronomer speculated.

Though Pluto was closest to the Sun in 1989, a warming trend 13 years later does not surprise David Tholen, a University of Hawaii astronomer involved in the discovery.

"It takes time for materials to warm up and cool off, which is why the hottest part of the day on Earth is usually around 2 or 3 p.m. rather than local noon," Tholen said. "This warming trend on Pluto could easily last for another 13 years."

See complete article by Robert Roy Britt:
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/pluto_warming_021009.html




               

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