2015 Issue

Beyond the New Horizon: The Future of Pluto

Michael B. Lund

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto's mass has been a value that has repeatedly been calculated. Additionally, the search for Planet X prior to Pluto's discovery results in mass calculations that date back several decades earlier. Over its observed history, the mass of Pluto has consistently decreased. We reassess earlier predictions of Pluto's fate, and rule out the hypothesis that Pluto's mass has been constant over the last century. We are able to fit linear and quadratic equations to Pluto's mass as a function of both time and distance. The observations that will be made by New Horizons will help to determine if we can expect Pluto to continue to shrink until it has negative mass, or if it will begin to increase in mass again.