NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been busy tracking Pluto and its surrounding moons since even before it made the initial fly-by in July of this year.
Among some of the latest images NASA has released this month of the dwarf planet and its moons show what a full day looks like on Pluto, as well as on Charon (Pluto’s largest moon).
The first image set below shows that of Pluto, while the second image set shows that of Charon. They were taken by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Ralph Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera between the dates of July 7th and July 14th, as NASA notes in its release statement.
These images give us a better look at all of the angles of the dwarf planet, as well as Charon, and help scientists better understand the surface.
Some of the angles are taken at a lower resolution because New Horizons wasn’t quite close enough at the time they were taken, and by the time New Horizons flew by, which didn’t take that long, the time it would take for Pluto to make another full rotation would have been too late for the spacecraft to get a clearer photograph.
In other words, the resolution really wouldn’t have been able to get much better with the technology being used at the time.
Both Pluto and Charon have a full day that lasts 6.4 Earth days; that’s how long it takes the dwarf planet to complete one full rotation on its axis. This is why it took so long to get a full 360º portrait of Pluto and Charon.
New Horizons is currently headed for interstellar space, where it is expected to meet up with an icy body in the Kuiper Belt known as 2014 MU69, where it will snap more pictures and conduct tests. New Horizons will also continue to beam photos and data back to Earth as is continues outwards from our solar system.