How Far Is Pluto From Earth?

Pluto is, on average, 39.5 AU or 5.9 billion km / 3.7 billion mi away from the Sun. Earth is, on average, 1.00 AU or 150 million km / 93 million mi away from the Sun. So how far is Pluto from Earth?

The planets in the solar system travel in elliptical orbits rather than perfect circles, and so the distances between them are constantly changing. At its most distant, when the two bodies are on the opposite sides of the sun from one another.

How Far Is Pluto From Earth?

At their most distant point, when Pluto and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, they are about 7.5 billion km/4.67 billion miles apart. Pluto’s closest approach to Earth is when the dwarf planet is just 4.28 billion km/2.66 billion miles from us. This is when Pluto is closer to the Sun than even Neptune.

However, on average, Pluto is 5.05 billion km/3.1 billion miles from Earth. This is all due to Pluto’s highly eccentric orbit, which places it 30 to 49 AU from the Sun.

How Far Is Pluto From Earth

How far is Pluto from the sun?

Pluto’s orbit around the sun is unusual compared to the planets: it is both elliptical and inclined. Pluto’s 248-year oval orbit can take it as far as 49.3 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun and as far as 30 AU. (One AU is the mean distance between Earth and the Sun: about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.) But on average, Pluto is 3.7 billion miles (5.9 billion kilometers) from the Sun, or 39 AU.

From 1979 to 1999, Pluto was near perihelion, when it is closest to the Sun. During that time, Pluto was actually closer to the Sun than Neptune.

A day on Pluto lasts about 153 hours. Its axis of rotation is tilted 57 degrees from the plane of its orbit around the Sun, causing it to rotate almost on its side. Pluto also shows a retrograde rotation; rotating east to west like Venus and Uranus.

How Many Light Years does it Take to Get to Pluto?

Pluto is about 263.2 light minutes away from us. It would not take a light year to reach it. This is the average distance between Pluto and us, and even at its furthest point from us, it would not be anywhere near a light-year away.

How long would it take to get from Earth to Pluto?

Roughly 9-12 years. You could probably get there faster, but then you’d get less science done, and it probably wouldn’t be worth the rush. Are you super excited about the New Horizons flyby of Pluto?

The average distance between Pluto and Earth is 5.05 billion kilometers/3.1 billion miles. It’s very far from us. That being said, Pluto has an eccentric orbit that either moves it farther from us or closer to us.

Of course we launch a spaceship towards the planet based on our predictions of where it will be. The current fastest spacecraft that we have developed on Earth was NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, and it actually reached Pluto in just 9.5 years.

New Horizons launched on January 19, 2006, and it’ll reach Pluto on July 14, 2015. Do a little math and you’ll find that it has taken 9 years, 5 months and 25 days. The Voyager spacecraft did the distance between Earth and Pluto in about 12.5 years, although, neither spacecraft actually flew past Pluto. And the Pioneer spacecraft completed the journey in about 11 years.

Could you get to Pluto faster? Absolutely. With a more powerful rocket and a lighter spacecraft payload, you could definitely reduce flight time. But there are a few problems. Rockets are expensive, coincidentally bigger rockets are super expensive. The other problem is that reaching Pluto faster means it’s harder to do any sort of science once you’ve reached the dwarf planet.

Does Pluto Get Sunlight?

Pluto orbits on the fringes of our solar system, billions of miles away. Sunlight is much weaker there than it is here on Earth, yet it isn’t completely dark. In fact, for just a moment near dawn and dusk each day, the illumination on Earth matches that of high noon on Pluto.

Pluto might seem like a very far away planet, and it really is, but does it get any sunlight due to it being so far away? Of course, it does. Pluto gets around1/1600 as much light from the Sun as Earth does.

In fact, due to its eccentric orbit, Pluto behaves similar to a comet. When the dwarf planet gets at its closest point to the Sun, its atmosphere expands, but it also collapses as it moves further away from the Sun.

When Pluto approaches the Sun, its surface ices sublimate, changing from solid to gas, and rises to create a temporal atmosphere. These gases go up from Pluto’s surface to around 1,670 km / 1,037 mi.

This atmosphere is composed mostly out of nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide. The light from our Sun reaches Pluto in around 5.5 minutes at its average distance.

Plutonian Climate and Lifeforms

The Plutonic climate is forbidding with biting cold and an unbreathable atmosphere. Scientists have not been able to detect any life forms on the planet, neither plants nor animals. Nor are any likely without a water source. Though underground oceans are possible, scientists have yet to confirm their existence.

Whatever you think of Pluto’s status as a planet, no one can deny that it is a fascinating and mysterious member of our solar system!

Sources:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. NASA
  3. Space
  4. Theskylive
  5. Universetoday