Pluto

NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Scientists have discovered enormous white dunes made of methane ice on Pluto. They were found in high-resolution images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports it’s a mystery how they formed.

NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

In the last few years, Pluto has gone from being a fuzzy dot in the sky to a geologically active world of mountains, canyons, and heart-shaped glaciers. That’s thanks to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which sailed by Pluto in 2015 to photograph it up close for the first time. The mission’s leader Alan Stern is currently on a book tour and visits Flagstaff today. He spoke with KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny from the road.


Melissa Sevigny

Two new books chronicle Flagstaff’s long history with everybody’s favorite dwarf planet, Pluto. It was discovered at Lowell Observatory in 1930 and it’s been the toast of the town ever since. Local scientists have been involved with nearly every major Pluto discovery, including the recent flyby by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny brought the authors of the new books into the studio to have a conversation about why they think little Pluto is a big deal for Flagstaff.

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

A year from today, NASA scientists will have a chance to explore a small space rock in the outer solar system. It will be the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.


Molly Baker

A decade ago Flagstaff suffered a blow when Pluto was “demoted” to a dwarf planet. It was discovered at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff in 1930 and is a source of pride for the city. But astronomers voted on the definition of a planet and Pluto didn’t make the cut. Now, planetary scientists say that definition is both overly complicated and incomplete.  They’ve suggested a different one. Melissa Sevigny from the Arizona Science Desk spoke with two Lowell scientists about the definition, Will Grundy and Gerard van Belle.   


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