by Dr. Marc Buie
What's interesting about my planet?
Pluto just in 1988 passed perihelion, which is the point at which it's
closest to the sun, and it's gonna begin its hundred... and twenty year
voyage to its most distant place in its orbit. And over this time Pluto
is going to receive less and less sunlight, and basically cool off, so
we have, now, an opportunity to study Pluto when it is at its warmest,
and if we don't take the opportunity now to... make these observations
we'll have to wait another two hundred and forty years to repeat the experiment.
Pluto for young people -- and I consider myself still young, although
I might not look it anymore -- Pluto... is sort of the last "astronomers'
planet". We haven't yet had a close-up view with a spacecraft. We have
an opportunity here to see the development of a science- and a knowledge-base
about Pluto develop in our lifetimes. And certainly the past ten years
have been exciting, watching what we learned about Pluto, and I am certain
we are going to learn a great deal more, but this is sort of the special
epoch in human history where we are learning for the first time what this
planet is all about...
Planet Advocate, Marc Buie answers some questions