Charon and Pluto

We were wowed in July when the New Horizons spacecraft sent back initial photos as it sped past Pluto. Since then it has been gradually sending back data and now, more detailed photos. Recent pictures have been published of Pluto and it’s dwarf planet partner, Charon.

Charon in Enhanced Color NASA’s New Horizons captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Charon just before closest approach on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC); the colors are processed to best highlight the variation of surface properties across Charon. Charon’s color palette is not as diverse as Pluto’s; most striking is the reddish north (top) polar region, informally named Mordor Macula. Charon is 754 miles (1,214 kilometers) across; this image resolves details as small as 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers).
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Charon is half the diameter of Pluto but that makes it the largest moon in the solar system relative to it’s planet (Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet).

This composite of enhanced color images of Pluto (lower right) and Charon (upper left), was taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it passed through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015. This image highlights the striking differences between Pluto and Charon. The color and brightness of both Pluto and Charon have been processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon’s polar red terrain and Pluto’s equatorial red terrain. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Source and more details: Pluto’s Big Moon Charon Reveals a Colorful and Violent History

Pluto orbits around the joint gravitational centre due to the proximity and relative size of Charon.

Some comparative sizes

  • Charon 1,208 km
  • Pluto 2,370 km
  • Moon 3,475 km
  • Mercury 4,879 km
  • Mars 6,779 km
  • Venus 12,104 km
  • Earth 12,742 km

There’s been more detailed pictures of Pluto published too, including:

Sputnik Planum is the informal name of the smooth, light-bulb shaped region on the left of this composite of several New Horizons images of Pluto. The brilliantly white upland region to the right may be coated by nitrogen ice that has been transported through the atmosphere from the surface of Sputnik Planum, and deposited on these uplands.

In this extended color image of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, rounded and bizarrely textured mountains, informally named the Tartarus Dorsa, rise up along Pluto’s day-night terminator and show intricate but puzzling patterns of blue-gray ridges and reddish material in between. This view, roughly 330 miles (530 kilometers) across, combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14, 2015, and resolves details and colors on scales as small as 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers).
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

High-resolution images of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft just before closest approach on July 14, 2015, are the sharpest images to date of Pluto’s varied terrain—revealing details down to scales of 270 meters. In this 75-mile (120-kilometer) section of the taken from the larger, high-resolution mosaic above, the textured surface of the plain surrounds two isolated ice mountains.
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

More at http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/pluto-s-heart

Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  8th October 2015

    Cool Pics Pete 🙂

    Reply
  2. Pythagoras

     /  8th October 2015

    Incredible. Thanks for posting.

    Reply

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