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8 intriguing images of Pluto and beyond

By: Katherine Butler on Sept. 12, 2011, 11:07 a.m.
artist's rendering of pluto's surface

Photo: ESO

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Looking more carefully at Pluto

This artist's rendering from NASA shows what the surface of the dwarf planet might look like. With Charon at a crescent, you can see patches of methane. The sun "appears about 1,000 times fainter than on Earth," according to NASA. Pluto, which cannot be seen without a telescope, was first discovered in 1930. It was named for the Roman god of the dead, the suggestion of 11-year-old English schoolgirl Venetia Burney. But Pluto lost its planet status when the IAU determined that it was not the dominant gravitational body in its orbit around the sun, a requirement of all planets.