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Pluto spacecraft spots Charon for first time


Posted on Friday, 12 July, 2013 | Comment icon 11 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf


Image credit: NASA


 
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has celebrated another milestone - its first photograph of Charon.

Now more than seven years in to its epic 9-and-a-half year journey to the icy world of Pluto, New Horizons has finally caught a glimpse of the planet's largest moon, Charon. Still little more than a spec on the photograph, the image nonetheless represents a major milestone in the mission. With 550 million miles still to go it will take New Horizons another two years to reach its destination.

"We’re excited to have our first pixel on Charon," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern. "But two years from now, near closest approach, we’ll have almost a million pixels on Charon – and I expect we’ll be about a million times happier too!"

The new pictures can be viewed - here.

"NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft, using its highest-resolution telescopic camera, has spotted Pluto’s Texas-sized, ice-covered moon Charon for the first time."

  View: Full article |  Source: jhuapl.edu

  Discuss: View comments (11)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 July, 2013, 13:35
7½ years down, 2 to go. When it was launched on 11[sup]th[/sup] January 2006 I thought it would seem a life time before it arrived. I still had 9 days of my thirties left and I would be nearly 50 when it arrived at Pluto (over 50 when it encounters a Kuiper Belt Object). Yet so much has happened in space exploration since it was launched that the time seems to have passed quite quickly.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hobbit Feet on 12 July, 2013, 13:39
Didn't the powers that be decide that Pluto didn't qualify to be a planet? I would think the fact it has a moon would qualify it.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 July, 2013, 13:59
Yes, it is now classified as a dwarf planet along with Ceres in the main asteroid belt and Haumea, Makemake, and Eris in the Kuiper Belt. Actually it has at least five, but that has absolutely no baring at all on its planetary status. Many small asteroids also have moons (including 1998 QE2 which made a close fly-by of the Earth in May {see }) and these asteroids certainly don't qualify as planets. On the other hand, if you take into account that neither Mercury nor Venus have moons but DO qualify as planets then it is easy to see that the number of moons an object must be irreleva... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer on 12 July, 2013, 15:49
Maybe we'll finally see whether or not there is a 10th...oops I mean 9th planet
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 July, 2013, 16:11
If there are further planets out there it would by highly unlikely that New Horizons will find it by direct observation. The outer solar system is a mind bogglingly huge place. It would by an enormous coincidence for New Horizons to fortuitously pass by it.
Comment icon #7 Posted by WelshRed on 13 July, 2013, 12:03
If you're big enough to have your own satellites orbiting you, as far as I am concerned you are a planet.
Comment icon #8 Posted by woopypooky on 13 July, 2013, 12:39
as long as they are round, they should be considered planet instead of asteroids
Comment icon #9 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 13 July, 2013, 16:57
Fortunately the decision wasn't up to you. By your definition the solar system has tens of thousands of planets, some of them irregular in shape and only a few miles across. You definition is, at least, more sensible than that of WelshRed (which is truly nonsensical and unworkable). Define "round". Jupiter spins so rapidly that through a telescope it is clearly flattened at the poles. Does that mean it isn't a planet. Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt IS a close approximation to a sphere, so are you saying that is a planet? This is not a dig at you. The &... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Sundew on 18 July, 2013, 21:26
Whether planet or no, it will be great when the spacecraft sends close up photos of Pluto; one more piece of the puzzle that makes up our solar system. Many of the planets/moons/planetoids are so different from one another there is no telling what these photos may reveal and there's the excitement!
Comment icon #11 Posted by kobolds on 22 July, 2013, 1:18
I know how you feel . i just hope that i still kicking when it reach pluto
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