NASA's New Horizons space probe continues to transmit data back to Earth from its historic flyby earlier this summer, and it just delivered this stunning shot of Pluto's moon Charon.
NASA’s New Horizons space probe may prove to be one of the agency’s most beloved missions to date. The probe, after flying past Pluto this July 14, continues to send back epic shots of some of the most distant bodies in our solar system. According to a report from the Guardian, the most recent shot of the distant system is one of Pluto’s biggest moon, Charon.
New Horizons has shown scientists that Pluto is far from a dead, frozen lump of rock orbiting the sun. In fact, it has its own atmosphere and a geologically active surface that produces dazzling topographic features unlike anything seen here on Earth.
The photo of Charon offers even more insight into the system of tiny moons orbiting Pluto. Charon has a mysterious dark red pole, and scientists at NASA are completely baffled as to what it may be.
There are a wide variety of different terrains on Charon, most notably a 1,500-mile canyon running down the front center of the moon. The canyon is four times bigger than Earth’s Grand Canyon and at least twice as deep.
According to John Spencer, the deputy lead scientist on New Horizons’ geology and geophysics imaging team, the crust of Charon appears to have been split open. Researchers don’t know for sure what caused the massive fissure, but they suspect it has something to do with volcanism. They believe that fluid in the center of the moon had frozen and expanded, forcing the crust to crack along a pressure fault that runs horizontally across the surface.
The photo is one of many still to come, so be sure to stay tuned to announcements coming from NASA in the near future.