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Pluto could provide the 'missing link' to how planets evolve, a British space scientist has claimed ahead of Nasa's flyby next week.

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. spacecraft New Horizons will make a pass of the dwarf planet and send back the first close-up images from the faraway world.

When the probe first set off in January 2006 Pluto was still considered a planet. But just a few months later it was downgraded to a dwarf-planet or ‘plutoid’ and is now known unceremoniously as ‘asteroid number 134340’

Pluto could provide the 'missing link' to how planets evolve, a British space scientist has claimed ahead of Nasa's flyby next week.

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. spacecraft New Horizons will make a pass of the dwarf planet and send back the first close-up images from the faraway world.

When the probe first set off in January 2006 Pluto was still considered a planet. But just a few months later it was downgraded to a dwarf-planet or ‘plutoid’ and is now known unceremoniously as ‘asteroid number 134340’

Duncan is supported by the ECOGAL program, which is funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant. He is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy of Scotland, and a founding member of the UK SETI Research Network.

The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.

We all know and love the moon. We’re so assured that we only have one that we don’t even give it a specific name. It is the brightest object in the night sky, and amateur astronomers take great delight in mapping its craters and seas. To date, it is the only other heavenly body with human footprints.


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