Saturday, June 03, 2023

Pluto's Largest Moon Charon | NASA's New Horizons Mission

Pluto's Largest Moon Charon | NASA's New Horizons Mission

A darkened and mysterious north polar region known to some as Mordor Macula caps this high-resolution view of Charon, Pluto's largest moon. It was captured by NASA's New Horizons Mission near the spacecraft's closest approach on July 14, 2015. The combined blue, red, and infrared data was processed to enhance colors and follow variations in Charon's surface properties with a resolution of about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles). A stunning image of Charon's Pluto-facing hemisphere, it also features a clear view of an apparently moon-girdling belt of fractures and canyons that seems to separate smooth southern plains from varied northern terrain. Charon is 1,214 kilometers (754 miles) across. This is about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself, and makes it the largest satellite relative to its parent body in the Solar System.

New Horizons successfully pulled off the first exploration of the Pluto system in July 2015, followed by the farthest flyby in history—and first close-up look at a Kuiper Belt object (KBO)—with its flight past Arrokoth on New Year’s Day 2019. From its unique perch in the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons is making observations that cannot be made from anywhere else; even the stars look different from the spacecraft’s point of view.

As New Horizons team members use giant telescopes like the Japanese Subaru observatory to scan the skies for another potential (and long-shot) KBO flyby target, New Horizons itself remains healthy, collecting data on the solar wind and space environment in the Kuiper Belt, other KBOs, and distant planets like Uranus and Neptune.

Follow New Horizons on its historic voyage at

Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University/APL, Southwest Research Institute

Capture Date: July 14, 2015

#NASA #Astronomy #Space #Science #NewHorizonsMission #Pluto #DwarfPlanet #Moon #Charon #NewHorizonsSpacecraft #JPL #SolarSystem #MSFC #JohnsHopkinsUniversity #JHUAPL #SwRI #SouthwestResearchInstitute #UnitedStates #SolarSystem #SpaceExploration #Technology #Engineering #Robotics #STEM #Education

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