Mark Showalter Leads Team in Identifying a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

Within the past two weeks, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to identify a fifth moon circling Pluto.

It's hard to believe, but the arrival of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto is just three years away. The logistics of the high-speed flyby, already challenging, just got more complicated: Pluto turns out to have a fifth moon.

Although for now its official designation is S/2012 (134340) 1 — "134340" being the minor-planet number assigned to Pluto — the new find has been nicknamed "P5". (Easier to remember, don't you agree?) Its existence was announced last night by the IAU's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.

Long-time Pluto-watcher Mark Showalter (SETI Institute) led the nine-member discovery team. They took advantage of Pluto's opposition on June 29th, when this little world was a mere 31¼ astronomical units (2.9 billion miles) away, to image the system five times from June 26th to July 9th with the Hubble Space Telescope and its Wide Field Camera 3.

Read the rest at Sky and Telescope