Q:

What is the surface of Pluto like?

A:

Quick Answer

The surface of Pluto is extremely cold and completely lifeless. The minimum surface temperature of Pluto is minus 387 degrees Fahrenheit. The maximum surface temperature is minus 369 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Full Answer

The surface of Pluto is rocky, and this dwarf planet, downgraded from a regular planet in 2006, probably has a core of rock encased in water ice. The surface might also contain water ice and may be covered with nitrogen and methane ice. It's so cold that methane and nitrogen can't exist in their normal, gaseous state.

Scientists used to believe that Pluto had no atmosphere because its mass is so small that it couldn't generate the amount of gravity to hold onto an atmosphere. Now scientists believe that Pluto has some kind of atmosphere when it's closest to the Sun and the ice on its surface thaws out. At its very closest, Pluto is nearly 30 astronomical units from the Sun, which is 30 times the distance of the Sun from the Earth. Pluto shows no indication of a magnetic field.

For a long time, scientists believed that Pluto had only one moon, named Charon. Now they have discovered four more. They are Nyx, Styx, Kerberos and Hydra.

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