New Horizons Now Close Enough to See Pluto’s Smaller Moons

Animation of images acquired by New Horizons on Jan. 27–Feb. 8, 2015. Hydra is in the yellow square, Nix is in the orange.  (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Southwest Research Institute.)

Animation of images acquired by New Horizons on Jan. 27–Feb. 8, 2015. Hydra is in the yellow square, Nix is in the orange. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Southwest Research Institute.)

Now on the final leg of its journey to distant Pluto the New Horizons spacecraft has been able to spot not only the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon, but also two of its much smaller moons, Hydra and Nix – the latter for the very first time!

The animation above comprises seven frames made of images acquired by New Horizons from Jan. 27 to Feb. 8, 2015 while the spacecraft was closing in on 115 million miles (186 million km) from Pluto. Hydra is noted by a yellow box and Nix is in the orange. (See a version of the animation with some of the background stars and noise cleared out here.)

What’s more, these images have been released on the 85th anniversary of the first spotting of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.

“Professor Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto was far ahead its time, heralding the discovery of the Kuiper Belt and a new class of planet. The New Horizons team salutes —> Read More Here

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