Pluto’s Moons Nix and Hydra Get Real

Pluto's moon Nix (left), shown here in enhanced color as imaged by the New Horizons Ralph instrument, has a reddish spot that has attracted the interest of mission scientists. The data were obtained on the morning of July 14, 2015, and received on the ground on July 18. At the time the observations were taken New Horizons was about 102,000 miles (165,000 km) from Nix. The image shows features as small as approximately 2 miles (3 kilometers) across on Nix, which is estimated to be 26 miles (42 kilometers) long and 22 miles (36 kilometers) wide. Pluto's small, irregularly shaped moon Hydra (right) is revealed in this black and white image taken from New Horizons' LORRI instrument on July 14, 2015 from a distance of about 143,000 miles (231,000 kilometers). Features as small as 0.7 miles (1.2 kilometers) are visible on Hydra, which measures 34 miles (55 kilometers) in length.  Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Pluto’s moon Nix (left), shown here in enhanced color, has a reddish spot that has attracted the interest of mission scientists. The photo was taken on July 14, 2015 when New Horizons was about 102,000 miles (165,000 km) from Nix and shows features as small as about 2 miles (3 km) across. Hydra (right) was photographed with the LORRI instrument from a distance of about 143,000 miles (231,000 km). Features as small as 0.7 miles (1.2 km) are visible. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Of course they’ve always been real worlds. They just never looked that way. We’ve only known of their existence since 2005, when astronomers with the Pluto Companion Search Team spotted them using the Hubble Space Telescope. Never more than faint points of light, each is now revealed as a distinct, if tiny, world.(…)
Read the rest of Pluto’s Moons Nix and Hydra Get Real (335 words)


© Bob King for Universe Today, 2015. |
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