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Recent images from the Hubble Space Telescope show a fifth moon orbiting Pluto. The discovery of P5, as it's called, heralds a new age of unlocking the mysteries of the outer reaches of our solar system.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 at Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory, using a telescope that focused light onto glass plates. The Pluto Discovery Telescope is still on display at the observatory's Mars Hill site, as is the device used to compare the plates.

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Photo: Mark Duggan

The Pluto Discovery Telescope was built in 1928 to look for "Planet X," later known as Pluto.

More recently, the distant, icy world has been observed by Hubble. The latest images, taken in late June and early July, clearly show a fifth moon orbiting Pluto. Astronomers knew it had four, but were surprised to find a fifth satellite.

Larry Wasserman, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory and an expert on the Kuiper Belt, the region of space that Pluto inhabits, says we still know very little about Pluto. But that will change in 2015, when NASA's unmanned New Horizons probe arrives there to take pictures and collect data.

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Photo: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)

This image, taken July 7, 2012 from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting Pluto, including the newly discovered P5.

More resources:
Hubble Space Telescope's picture album of Pluto's 5th moon
Hubble Space Telescope's press release announcing discovery of P5
NASA's Kuiper Belt page