As the New Horizons spacecraft approached Pluto this summer, it sent back photos from all angles, allowing us to reconstruct an entire day on the dwarf planet. Not one to play favorites, NASA has now gone and done the same for Charon, Pluto’s crater-ridden moon.
Like Pluto, Charon rotates once every 6.4 Earth days. The images above were captured by New Horizons’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) from July 7th-13th, as the spacecraft closed in on the Pluto system. The top images show the side of Charon facing New Horizons during its closest approach on July 14th. Not surprisingly, the moon’s “far side” is much fuzzier.
Still, the entire composite is breathtaking. It’s worth remembering that prior to July, Pluto and Charon were little more than a pair of low res blobs hanging out on the edge of the Solar System. Now they’re a dynamic system with canyons, craters, ice volcanoes and patterned plains—a system we’re going to keep learning about for months to come as we slowly downlink all the New Horizons data.
Oh, and in case you were wondering what a full day on Pluto looks like, here it is again: