WASHINGTON, July 14 : NASA's New Horizons mission has settled a decades-long debate about the size of Pluto, discovering that the dwarf planet is 2,370 kilometres in diameter, larger than many prior estimates. The size was determined from images acquired with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard New Horizons spacecraft.
The result confirms what was already suspected: Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. "The size of Pluto has been debated since its discovery in 1930. We are excited to finally lay this question to rest," said mission scientist Bill McKinnon, Washington University, St Louis.
Pluto's newly estimated size means that its density is slightly lower than previously thought, and the fraction of ice in its interior is slightly higher. Also, the lowest layer of Pluto's atmosphere, called the troposphere, is shallower than previously believed. ?PTI