Pluto’s Newly Discovered Moon, P5, Threatens Spacecraft

Pluto’s Newly Discovered Moon Threatens NASA Spacecraft

Pluto’s Newly Discovered Moon Threatens NASA Spacecraft

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July 12 2012 4:47 PM

Pluto’s Newly Discovered Moon Threatens NASA Spacecraft

Get out your super powerful cameras—the newest, cutest moon in our solar system has been found.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has returned images of a tiny satellite, six to 15 miles across, orbiting our solar system's far-flung and much-debated dwarf planet. Circling Pluto with its four previously discovered lunar siblings like a set of Russian nesting dolls, the tiny moon has been given the catchy appellation P5. 

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This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto.

Photo by Mr Showalter/AFP/GettyImages

Where did the diminutive chuck of space rock come from? Probably Pluto's cataclysmic collision with an object in the Kuiper Belt, the wide band of debris that rings of our system. If so, it might be one of many.

Small it may be, but P5 could spell big trouble for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. Hurtling toward Pluto at 30,000 miles per hour, New Horizons may have to dodge these uncharted dangers. Mission specialists are hoping to design a new, safer trajectory for the craft.

Video by Paca Thomas.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.