Pluto and Charon’s orbital dance captured in color

Pluto and Charon in orbit

Images of Pluto (orange) and Charon (gray) orbiting a point in space (marked by an x) were stitched together to make the first true-color animation (below) sent back from the New Horizons spacecraft. 


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A pale orange Pluto and a dark gray Charon dance around one another in the first true-color animation captured by the New Horizons spacecraft, which is scheduled to buzz the pair on July 14. The images were taken when the probe was about 50 million kilometers from the dwarf planet and its largest satellite.

How Pluto and Charon came to be such different colors is one of the many mysteries that planetary scientists hope to understand after New Horizons flies by. The new pictures were taken with the probe’s wide-angle camera, so they don’t show as much detail as other recent images. 

For more on the flyby, read SN‘s feature, “Rendezvous with Pluto.”

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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