Engineering Universe

New photos: Pluto’s moon Charon presents it ravines and slopes

The NASA spacecraft of new horizons curving around after their nine-year journey through the depths of space since July to the dwarf planet Pluto and surprises with new images. Now she has transmitted detailed photos of the largest moon of Pluto to Earth. You show a gigantic Canyon system on Charon.

The Grand Canyon here on our home planet Earth is impressive and is one of the great natural wonders of the Earth: A steep 450 km-long Gorge through the meanders of the Colorado River. Now, the Grand Canyon has got a real competition. Not here on Earth, but at the edge of the solar system: the Pluto Moon Charon is a vast Canyon system that somehow old earthly Grand Canyon look like. These show the previously detailed shots of the icy Moon of Pluto, which the spacecraft new horizons were shot and now published by the U.S. space agency NASA.


Up on the far side of the Moon

There in the gloom is a up to 9 km deep canyon system that is at least four times as long as the Grand Canyon. This is joined by a 600 km-long chain of valleys and slopes. “We thought it was unlikely to see such interesting features on this satellite of a world at the far edge of the solar system”, emphasizes new horizons researcher Ross Beyer.

The picture now from the NASA spacecraft to Earth songstress shows a gigantic Canyon, which extends across about the Pluto Moon Charon and probably on the back ranges.

Crust of the Moon’s surface may be blown up due to ice formation

“It looks as if Charon complete crust would be jumped”, reported John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, United States. A subterranean Ocean on Charon could be frozen so it long time ago, which literally blew up the surface of the Moon by its expansion in the icing. A week ago, NASA had announced that liquid water exists on our neighboring planet Mars. Water in its liquid form in science considered most important precondition that organic life can make.

Named after the old Ferryman Charon

The Pluto Moon Charon was discovered in 1978 by James Christy. It is named after the old Ferryman Charon in Greek mythology who brings the dead for a fee in a boat from rushes across the River, so that it enters the realm of Hades, ruler’s the underworld from there.

Charon is 1186 km in diameter and orbits at an average distance of 20,000 km Pluto in 6.4 days. Much like the Earth’s moon Charon orbiting his planet bound, he shows always the same face to him. The two celestial bodies go through almost a double planet because mass ratio of Charon to Pluto is the largest mass ratio of a moon to his planet ever found in the solar system with 1:10.

Five moons orbiting the tiny dwarf planet

In addition to Charon, the dwarf planet Pluto has four other moons: Hydra and Nix, which were discovered a decade ago are. Kerberos noticed astronomers until 2011 and then a year later, Styx came them in front of the lens. Pluto and its five moons orbiting our primary pretty leisurely.

For an orbit around the Sun, Pluto takes 247 earthly years. 2006-Pluto no longer belongs to the exclusive circle of the planets of our solar system, the International Astronomical Union demoted the poor guy to the dwarf planet.