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.
Mayhem in the outer solar system! Pluto’s four baby moons—Nix, Styx, Hydra and Kerberos—are spinning like mad, surely a sign that the once-ninth planet is gearing up for a full-out assault on the denizens (us!) of the sunlit realm.
Of all the craters on Pluto’s moon Charon, this one is unlike the others. The bright green marks a unique splash of frozen ammonia at a concentration higher than any other crater examined in detail on the massive moon. But does that mean it’s the youngest?
You didn’t have anything you wanted to do today, right? Good. It’s time for an even more detailed look at Charon, Pluto’s outrageously enormous moon with bizarrely complicated geology.
Charon is a dynamic, interesting world in its own right, and even more interesting when directly compared to the dwarf planet Pluto. Soar over the bizarre terrain as you learn more about the weird and wonderful geomorphology of this not-so-little moon.
When the New Horizons spacecraft raced past Pluto this summer, it constantly snapped photographs both coming and going. This is exactly what it saw while zooming past the frozen dwarf planet. Whoa.
It’s no secret that scientists are incredible, unrepentant geeks, so we really shouldn’t be surprised that the tentative maps for Pluto and Charon read like the most awesome mishmash of exploration history and popular culture to ever grace a planetary system. And every single place holds a story.
Stop hoping that Pluto will regain its former designation as a planet. It isn’t going to happen. But the good news is, Pluto is something much cooler than a mere planet. It’s the largest dwarf planet we know, and one half of the first binary planet system. Pluto didn’t get demoted, it got promoted.
Pluto and Charon have captured our hearts and imaginations. But how did these adorably strange worlds form, and what consequences could that have on what we see now? Researcher Amy Barr Mlinar chatted with us about catastrophic collisions, subsurface oceans, and Pluto’s lack of craters.
New ideas about Pluto, Charon, and all the little moons have been flowing back from the New Horizons spacecraft fast and furious. If you’re curious but haven’t kept up, here’s everything we’ve learned so far.
If you could survive the long, cold trip to Pluto, this is how you would see the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon with your own eyes.
Hi, Charon! What’s that? You’re jealous that Pluto broke the brains of geophysicists worldwide yesterday, and want attention? Fine, let’s see what you look like up close! Beautiful craters, lovely smooth plains, a few cool linear features... Wait a minute, is that a mountain in a moat? How did you create that?!
This is Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, in the most beautiful, detailed, highest-resolution single frame image we’ll be downlinking from the flyby this month. And it is amazing.
It’s been a crazy week learning about Pluto as the New Horizons spacecraft makes the first-ever close encounter with the dwarf planet. Join us as we live-blog the very first science results as the mission team reports back after closest approach.
Early this morning, NASA’s New Horizons probe made its closest approach to the Pluto-Charon system. Now after a full day of science and a long, long wait for the signal to reach Earth, we’ve received word that our daring (and darling!) probe is still alive.
Welcome to the excellently weird world of informal naming systems: here’s how we’re naming all the newly-discovered places on Pluto after Cthulhu, Balrog, Meng-p’o, and other dwellers from the underworld.
This is Pluto in Charon in real color, but exaggerated to emphasize the compositional differences. The image was taken by the New Horizons probe early in the morning of July 13, 2015 before its historic flyby.
Are you ready for the New Horizons Pluto flyby? io9 is hosting live blogs to celebrate the probe’s closest approach starting at 7:30am ET/4:30am PT on Tuesday morning. We’ll be back at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT on Tuesday night to wait with baited breath for New Horizon’s first call home to Earth after the flyby.
New Horizons is racing to Pluto so quickly, we’re literally learning new things every single day. Exploration is a true planet-wide “Today I learned...” moment: we now know what makes up Pluto’s atmosphere, what makes up its ice cap, and exactly how big it is.
At less than a million miles from Pluto leading up to closest approach flyby on Tuesday, the New Horizons probe is sending back outright spectacular images of the dwarf planet and its largest moon. Every batch of best-ever images sparks speculation on what geology underlays the features on these distant, rocky worlds.