A Full 360 on Pluto and Charon

As the results from Pluto and its system of moons continues to pour in, we are seeing a lot of scientists keeping busy in excitement as they interpret the data and work to understand the complexities of the recently illuminated dwarf planet.  The fascinating images that have returned have also been interpreted and manipulated in ways that show fascinating features and unexpected views.  A recent rendering shows a complete rotation of Pluto and Charon from images taken by New Horizons.

On approach in July 2015, the cameras on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “Pluto day.” The best available images of each side of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.
On approach to the Pluto system in July 2015, the cameras on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured images of the largest of Pluto’s five moons, Charon, rotating over the course of a full day. The best currently available images of each side of Charon taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation of the moon. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

Since it takes Pluto 6 days, 9 hours, and 36 minutes to rotate, New Horizons couldn’t take high resolution images of the entire world during it’s speedy fly-by.  The blurrier parts of the images are from pictures taken by New Horizons up to a week before closest approach.

Still, it gives us a full view of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, allowing us to look at its features as a whole and identify strange or surprising ones.

It’s sad to think that it will be a few decades before we get to see the full splendour of these alien worlds in high definition, but I am hopeful that in my lifetime, we will return to the Plutonian system with a plethora of new knowledge and science goals, and clear objectives to help us determine how our solar system came together.

 

One thought on “A Full 360 on Pluto and Charon

  1. This actually answered my problem, thanks!

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