Pluto the Movie

Pluto and Charon from New Horizons. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The New Horizons spacecraft captured this “movie” consisting of 12 images showing Pluto and the moon Charon. Those 12 images, taken between 19 and 24 July so almost one full orbit of Pluto and Charon, from 429 million to 422 million km / 267 million to 262 million miles using the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). ¬†This set of images was taken with the New Horizons spacecraft 10 times closer to Pluto than we are here on Earth.

Notice the wobble? Pluto and Charon are binary, really a binary planet system and they orbit each other around the center of mass (called the barycenter) which is between the two. The LORRI is set to the barycenter.

Charon is orbiting about 18,000 km / 11,200 miles from Pluto.

New Horizons will cross the Neptune orbit in just over a week and will fly by the Pluto system in less than a year with approach operations to begin in just a few months.

Visit the New Horizons site for the original images.

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