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Space NASA

Time-Lapse of Pluto and Charon Produced By New Horizons 44

schwit1 writes: Cool images! Using New Horizons' long range camera, scientists have compiled a movie showing Charon and Pluto orbiting each other during the last week of January 2015. "Pluto and Charon were observed for an entire rotation of each body; a "day" on Pluto and Charon is 6.4 Earth days. The first of the images was taken when New Horizons was about 3 billion miles from Earth, but just 126 million miles (203 million kilometers) from Pluto — about 30% farther than Earth's distance from the Sun. The last frame came 6.5 days later, with New Horizons more than 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) closer." The wobble easily visible in Pluto's motion is due to the gravity of Charon, about one-eighth as massive as Pluto and about the size of Texas. Our view of Pluto and Charon is only going to get better as New Horizons zooms towards its July fly-by.
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Time-Lapse of Pluto and Charon Produced By New Horizons

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  • Still pretty far away

    • Still pretty far away

      Yeah. Let's hope when it gets closer, the pictures will look like what we got from Voyager-[12]. That was 35 years ago [nasa.gov]. Man, we were good at the time.

      • Re:More than 1 AU (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @05:26AM (#49058925)

        what we have from NH is what we had in 2012 from Gemini North, Hawai'i. That's not to say "Oh, how disappointing!", what you've got to consider (and from what I'm reading down this page, not many people are) is that the GN observations will NEVER get any better because OPTICAL PHYSICS and the fact that those observations were made when Pluto was about as close as it's going to get for a good while. NH is getting closer by the day - right now it is closer to Pluto than this planet will EVER get. The images are only going to get BETTER as it approaches - providing the cameras don't fail.

  • July Fly-by (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @03:42AM (#49058745)

    It makes sense when you're going to thecoldest planet in the solar system, to arrive in summer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, that is unless you count, say, Eris, but as it happens, this is sort of late summer on Pluto -- the seasons are not so much caused by axial tilt as by Pluto's eccentric orbit. Midsummer fell at perihelion in 1989, midwinter will be in 2114.

    • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @07:54AM (#49059145)

      As opposed to February, which is in summer. (Note both depend on your hemisphere.)

  • That's no moon!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's no moon!

      That's no planet!

      • You and the IAU can take a hike. I'm looking forward to seeing up close photos of the planet Pluto.

        And yes, I have mod points, and am posting anyway.

        • the IAU should grant Pluto a once-in-the-universe exception to the definition of 'planet'

          it's perfect for kids...

          why?

          because Pluto technically isn't a planet even though historically it is known as one of the planets

          why isn't it a planet?

          see...it's just a big excuse to talk about astronomy

          put an asterisk by it in the textbooks

          the IAU could bolster its reputation by doing this as well

          • I always loved the sound of "Pluto" at the end of the list of planets.
          • the IAU should grant Pluto a once-in-the-universe exception to the definition of 'planet'

            Same as we have a term for the Classical Planets as those that could be seen with the naked eye and known though history, I suspect we'll end up with a term such as Modern Planets or Classical Modern Planets that will include Pluto simply because it was a planet for some time.

  • Need CSI (Score:4, Funny)

    by inflex ( 123318 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @03:59AM (#49058779) Homepage Journal

    They should have gotten CSI on the job, need that zoom+enhance facility.

  • One still notes that Charon isn't actually bigger than Texas, though it could be one of Chuck Norris' turds! Now we will find out for sure.

    Thank you NASA. Thank you American taxpayer, this is one of the most inspiring things I've seen for a long time.

    I wish NASA a long mission!!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Chuck Norris is a religious nut, can we please stop these jokes about how tough he is. He has no sense of humor and actively sues people using his memes on joke products.

      • Chuck Norris is a religious nut, can we please stop these jokes about how tough he is. He has no sense of humor and actively sues people using his memes on joke products.

        Yep, I see what you mean. He's a bit of a jerk.

  • (obligatory Ep.IV quote... parenthetical added since last time some people though this was a dissertation in planetary astronomy)
  • It makes me wish they had taken (or would publish) more than a mere 7 frames. At only 1 frame per day, it reminds me more of a stop-motion than time-lapse.
  • It's really amazing to see that visible wobble.

    It makes me wonder if there are any available time lapses of the Earth-Moon system from a comparable vantage point? And would they show a much smaller but still faintly perceptible wobble in the Earth?

  • So, what's Mass Effect 4 going to do when the premise that Charon is actually a "mass relay" is no longer usable for suspension of disbelief? =^-^=

    • So, what's Mass Effect 4 going to do when the premise that Charon is actually a "mass relay" is no longer usable for suspension of disbelief? =^-^=

      Personally, I'm hoping that we find out that Charon is a mass relay...or at least, made out of cheese.

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