A flotilla of 10 or more tiny undiscovered moons might lurk in Pluto's orbit, complicating a spacecraft's planned flyby of the distant dwarf planet in 2015, new simulations suggest.
This preliminary finding could make life even more difficult for the team planning NASA's New Horizons mission, which is slated to take the first-ever up-close look at the Pluto system in July 2015. After Pluto's fifth known moon, a small satellite known as P5, was discovered last year, officials said they may need to redraw the spacecraft's path to avoid such obstacles.
"It has our attention," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern told SPACE.com via email, referring to the new research. He added he hasn't thoroughly analyzed the work yet.