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Planetoids Beyond Pluto
Topic: Outer Solar System
Counting down the top ten astrobiology stories for 2004 highlights the accomplishments of those exploring Mars, Saturn, comets, and planets beyond Pluto. Number six in this countdown was the discovery of potential heat sources for ice beyond Pluto, an important finding if water is considered the key ingredient to understanding biological probabilities elsewhere in the solar system.

What Melted the Ice Planet?
Topic: Outer Solar System
In October 2002, the Hubble Space Telescope first spotted an icy planetoid beyond Pluto. Named after an American Indian god, Quaoar, the planetoid should be far colder based on its distance from the sun than it appears to be.

Vision of Neptune's Triton
Topic: Outer Solar System
Beyond the gas giants of Saturn and Jupiter, NASA plans its vision to explore the ice giants, like Neptune. While Titan attracts all the attention of moon watchers near Saturn, Triton intrigues those looking near Neptune.

Stormy Uranus
Topic: Outer Solar System
As the smallest of the gas giants, Uranus was thought from the Voyager probe flyby to have a relatively inactive surface. Stunning new images reveal storms the size of entire terrestrial continents and a faint ring.

Beyond the Nine Planets
Topic: Outer Solar System
The first detection of the faint distant object dubbed "Sedna" beyond Pluto may represent a new planet-like body with a moon. Looking up from Sedna's surface, the Sun would appear in the sky as the size of a pinhead.

New Moon System Around Uranus
Topic: Outer Solar System
Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have found two of the smallest moons yet in the Uranus satellite system. Measuring a minute eight miles, two of the small moons had previously eluded detection from the much closer view offered from the Voyager 2 flyby of the outer planets.

Neptune Starts Forty-Year Spring
Topic: Outer Solar System
Long-term observations of Neptune by the Hubble Space Telescope point to a changing season. When spring breaks on the ice-planet, it can last for decades. Cloud cover suggests that the planet's climate is changing.

Fire and Ice
Topic: Outer Solar System
Pluto, the only planet never visited by a spacecraft, is about to lose that distinction. NASA announced plans to visit the farthest reaches of our solar system, along with a journey to its innermost depths. Missions are now slated for fiery Mercury and to the icy worlds of the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto.

Companions for Ice-Planet Neptune
Topic: Outer Solar System
New moons have been found orbiting Neptune, one of our solar system's giant ice ball planets. The moons are the first found from ground-based telescopes in more than half a century.

Beyond Pluto: Ice Planet
Topic: Outer Solar System
The Hubble Telescope astronomers have found beyond Pluto, a distant object with the volume of all the asteroids combined. Unlike the long-contested 'Planet X', this candidate is one of a myriad of exotic, comet-like worlds (otherwise known as 'Kuiper Belt Objects', or KBOs).

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