First image of Pluto’s largest moon by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft

This New Horizons LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) composite image shows the detection of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, cleanly separated from Pluto itself. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Main Point:

NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft took the first image of Charon, i.e. largest moon of the Pluto, with the help of highest-resolution telescopic camera.

Study Further:

Charon, discovered in 1978, is the largest moon of the Pluto’s five known moons. It is almost the size of Texas State of U.S. and is covered by ice. Charon is orbiting about 12,000 miles (more than 19,000 kilometers) away from Pluto.

The spacecraft was 550 million miles (885 million km) from Pluto, when its LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped a total of six images: three July 1 and three more July 3.

“The image itself might not look very impressive to the untrained eye, but compared to the discovery images of Charon from Earth, these ‘discovery’ images from New Horizons look great!” said New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “We’re very excited to see Pluto and Charon as separate objects for the first time from New Horizons.”

“We’re excited to have our first pixel on Charon,” New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute said, “but two years from now, near closest approach, we’ll have almost a million pixels on Charon — and I expect we’ll be about a million times happier too!”


New Horizons via Astronomy

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."