Don’t plan a ski trip to Pluto

The lift ticket prices at Whistler may be out of this world, but that doesn’t mean you need to leave Earth in order to hit the slopes!

Sure, Pluto is an icy body that is cold enough to have year-round winter, but I don’t think your North Face jacket could handle the -223 C temperatures. Pluto’s longer years may be tempting, but who really wants to get in 90,560 Earth days of skiing in a single season?

It may seem unbearable to take the two-hour bus ride to Whistler, but Pluto is roughly 7.5 billion kilometres away from Earth. It took New Horizons 9.5 years to get to Pluto, and that was after being launched from an Atlas V rocket.

Pluto may have some pretty sweet mountains that tower over its surface at 3,500 metres, but that’s only a 2,000 metre bigger vertical drop than you would get in Whistler.

Do these mountains still seem appealing? Consider that they are mostly composed of methane ice. If that methane ice mixed with other gases, those slopes would smell like farts. And you thought the icy runs in spring skiing stink!

Let’s also set aside the fact that Pluto only has 0.001 per cent of the atmosphere that Earth does. That means you’ll have to trade in that ski helmet for a full space helmet ($$$).

If you’re into hitting some sweet jumps in the park, you would have to wait a lot longer to hit the ground on Pluto. With only six per cent the surface gravity, your hangtime would be over four times as long.

Plus, in case you didn’t hear, Pluto isn’t even a planet anymore. It’s hard to go celebrity spotting on a mere Dwarf Planet (although if there’s a camera on Pluto, Justin Trudeau will find a way to photobomb it). Pluto hasn’t even cleared its neighborhood (sounds messy), causing the International Astronomical Union to redefine what it means to be a planet — Pluto no longer fits the bill.

If you still think that Pluto is the best option to get a few turns in, you may have to wait a while. There is currently no planned mission (NASA or otherwise) to return to Pluto, although scientists at the Southwest Research Institute think they could get an orbiter around Pluto in the late 2030s.

Maybe UBC’s construction will be finished by then.

Jacob White is PhD student in astrophysics studying planet formation and the radio emission of stars in the department of physics and astronomy.