New Horizons spies two of Pluto’s moons

Nix and Hydra orbiting Pluto

Nix and Hydra (diamonds) circle Pluto and Charon (center) in an image taken by New Horizons on February 8. The image on the right has been processed to make the moons easier to see.

NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute

The pictures may not be pretty, but the New Horizons spacecraft just got its first peek at two more of Pluto’s moons, Nix and Hydra, just in time for the 85th anniversary of Pluto’s discovery. The probe, scheduled to fly by Pluto on July 14, took the pictures while roughly 190 million kilometers from the dwarf planet.

Researchers discovered Nix and Hydra in 2005 from pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. New Horizons has now seen three of Pluto’s known moons. The probe won’t be able to see the two smallest satellites, Kerberos and Styx, for another couple of months. 

headshot of Associate News Editor Christopher Crockett

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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