The dwarf planet Pluto has five moons. Charon is the biggest moon and was discovered in 1978. It is a freak because it is very large as compared to its parent body – almost half as wide as Pluto. New Horizons spacecraft has taken some amazing pictures of the strange moon of the dwarf planet.
Already the New Horizons Mission has enriched the knowledge about the planets in the outer realms of the solar system. The spacecraft has provided valuable new information about the dwarf planet Pluto. It has also taken incredible pictures of the numerous moons of the dwarf planet, and this also included a picture of the dark side of one of the dwarf planet’s biggest moons, Charon.
The picture was taken when the New Horizons was at its closest distance from Pluto. It was an amazing picture which gave a night side vision of the strange moon.
The picture was snapped by the spacecraft’s Long-range Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LORRI from more than 1.9 miles away. It was a sixteen-second long exposure, and the pictures were then joined to give a bigger picture of a glowing ridge around Charon.
Though not as detailed as the pictures of the Pluto’s surface, they still tell a great deal about some interesting features on the moon. Charon’s night time landscape is faintly illuminated by light reflected off Pluto much akin to Earthshine, which lights up a new moon every month.
Charon is big when compared to its parent body and dances with its primary planet around a central orbital point called the barycenter. Besides Charon, there are four other moons which orbit the binary system. NASA hopes to study these bodies also in the coming months. NASA would also like to study closely Charon’s South Pole, which will not be illuminated before 2017 and is sitting in the dark since 1989.