NASA have used pictures from the New Horizons spacecraft, to create an amazing portrait or Pluto and its moon Charon. The images were captured by the spacecraft when it flew past Pluto at speed over 30,000 miles per hour in July.
The images reveal the activity during the course of a full day on Pluto — about 6.4 Earth days. The pictures were captured using the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera. The spacecraft was about 400,000 miles from the surface of the dwarf planet during its closest flyby. The images were captured between July 7 and 13. Pluto spins at a much lower rate, when it makes a full rotation on a full Pluto day.
One of the moons of Pluto, Charon, also known as Pluto I, rotates once every 6.4 Earth days. In some images, surface pictures can be seen, with canyons, cratered uplands and rolling plains. The pictures reveal several details of Charon, and also showed that it has a similar rotation speed as Pluto. Other cosmic bodies known as Pluto’s moons are Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx. These are misshapen bodies and they tumble around Pluto, due to their small size.
New Horizons flew past Pluto at a speed of over 30,000 miles per hour on July 14, and it came within 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) of Charon, making it the only probe to visit Pluto and Charon. NASA is set to use these images to study the dwarf planet’s surface in detail, though they have their own limitations.
NASA said that a side called the ‘encounter hemisphere’ was seen in more detail by the New Horizons spacecraft. Charon was discovered by the U.S Naval Observatory in 1978. Though it is larger than its parent planet, it has only eight of the mass.
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