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Little Pluto - a Little Plumper than NASA Scientists Thought

This is an artist's conception of Pluto.  NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will soon provide actual photographs of Pluto, taken from the closest vantage point of any NASA camera.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Little Pluto is a little bigger than anyone imagined.  On the eve of NASA's historic flyby of Pluto, scientists announced today (MON) that the New Horizons spacecraft has nailed the size of the faraway icy world. Measurements by the spacecraft set to sweep past Pluto on Tuesday indicate the radius of the dwarf planet spans 736 miles, plus or minus six miles. That's 20 miles to 30 miles bigger than previous estimates. The diameter would be twice that.  Principal scientist Alan Stern says this means Pluto has a lower density than thought, which could mean an icier interior.  New Horizons' 3 billion-mile, 9½-year journey culminates Tuesday morning when the spacecraft zooms within 7,767 miles of Pluto. Managers say there's only one chance in 10,000 something could go wrong, like a debris strike.  Pluto was discovered in 1930 by a 24-year-old Kansan, Clyde Tombaugh, while he was working as a paid intern at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. 



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