The latest New Horizons photos show Pluto and its moon Charon for a full day.
The New Horizons photos just keep coming, and the latest installment from NASA offers one of the most comprehensive views of the dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, yet. According to a report from Mashable, the images released on Friday show Pluto and Charon over the course of an entire day, with their position in the sun’s light consistently shifting.
The photos, unlike many, were not snapped when New Horizons flew by the dwarf planet on July 14 this year. They were captured during the space probe’s approach over a period from July 7 to July 13 at a distance of 5 million to 400,000 miles. The photos show Pluto completing a full rotation around its axis.
NASA says that the most distant images make up the right hand side of the diagram, while the encounter hemisphere, or the region of Pluto that faced New Horizons as it made its closest pass, can be seen at the bottom of the diagram.
NASA researchers hope to use the pictures to continue their ongoing research into the bizarre surface geology of the dwarf planet, but the photos leave the planet’s “dark side” largely shrouded in mystery. Based on the images that New Horizons was able to capture, researchers still have an incomplete understanding of the surface of Pluto.
Researchers know even less about Pluto’s biggest moon, Charon. The photos of the moon were also snapped on the approach between July 7 and July 13, and the closest image can be seen at the top of the diagram.
Charon joins Kerberos, Nix Hydra, and Styx as the bodies that orbit the strange dwarf planet. Researchers hope to continue analyzing the images sent home by New Horizons in an effort to gain a better understanding of the processes that shape Pluto and its moons.
A press release from NASA describing the recent photos can be found here.