Even though Pluto is no longer a planet of our Solar System anymore, does’nt mean we have totally forgotten about it! Indeed, back in April, NASA’s New Horizons space probe snapped the first colored images of the dwarf planet Pluto.
And on this Monday, the NASA took it a step further, releasing two colored “movies” which reveal a majestic orbital dance between Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.
“It’s exciting to see Pluto and Charon in motion and in color,” Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons, said in a statement. “Even at this low resolution, we can see that Pluto and Charon have different colors – Pluto is beige-orange, while Charon is grey. Exactly why they are so different is the subject of debate.”
The animation not only display shows the contrasting colors between planet and moon – it also shows the two bodies waltzing around a central point in an arrangement scientists call a “double planet.”
The space craft which took the pictures, launched all the way back in January 2006 is called ‘New Horizons’. It is the first-ever mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, a relic of a solar system formation past Neptune. In sending the spacecraft on this nearly 3-billion mile journey, NASA is giving humans our first close-up look at this remote dwarf planet.
The almost true color videos that were released
were made using images in blue, red, and near-infrared taken on nine different occasions and from different perspectives from May 29 to June 3.
The first film shows Charon moving in relation to Pluto, which is at the center of the scene. The second movie reveals the more accurate reality: the planet and the moon orbiting around a barycenter, or a shared center of gravity between the two bodies.