Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




OUTER PLANETS
NASA's New Horizons Spots Pluto's Faintest Known Moons
by Staff Writers
Boulder CO (SPX) May 13, 2015


The images detecting Kerberos and Styx shown here were taken with New Horizons' most sensitive camera, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), from April 25-May 1. View the full set of images here.

It's a complete Pluto family photo - or at least a photo of the family members we've already met.

For the first time, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has photographed Kerberos and Styx - the smallest and faintest of Pluto's five known moons. Following the spacecraft's detection of Pluto's giant moon Charon in July 2013, and Pluto's smaller moons Hydra and Nix in July 2014 and January 2015, respectively, New Horizons is now within sight of all the known members of the Pluto system.

"New Horizons is now on the threshold of discovery," said mission science team member John Spencer, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "If the spacecraft observes any additional moons as we get closer to Pluto, they will be worlds that no one has seen before."

Drawing ever closer to Pluto in mid-May, New Horizons will begin its first search for new moons or rings that might threaten the spacecraft on its passage through the Pluto system. The images of faint Styx and Kerberos shown here are allowing the search team to refine the techniques they will use to analyze those data, which will push the sensitivity limits even deeper.

Kerberos and Styx were discovered in 2011 and 2012, respectively, by New Horizons team members using the Hubble Space Telescope. Styx, circling Pluto every 20 days between the orbits of Charon and Nix, is likely just 4 to 13 miles (approximately 7 to 21 kilometers) in diameter, and Kerberos, orbiting between Nix and Hydra with a 32-day period, is just 6 to 20 miles (approximately 10 to 30 kilometers) in diameter. Each is 20 to 30 times fainter than Nix and Hydra.

The images detecting Kerberos and Styx shown here were taken with New Horizons' most sensitive camera, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), from April 25-May 1. Each observation consists of five 10-second exposures that have been added together to make the image in the left panel. Images were extensively processed to reduce the bright glare of Pluto and Charon and largely remove the dense field of background stars (center and right panels). This reveals the faint satellites, whose positions and orbits - along with those of brighter moons Nix and Hydra - are given in the right panel.

"Detecting these tiny moons from a distance of more than 55 million miles is amazing, and a credit to the team that built our LORRI long-range camera and John Spencer's team of moon and ring hunters," added New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute.

Kerberos is visible in all of the images, though is partially obscured in the second image. Styx is not visible in the first image, only in subsequent ones; on April 25 it was obscured by electronic artifacts in the camera - the black and white streaks extending to the right of the extremely overexposed images of Pluto and Charon in the center of the frame. These artifacts point in different directions in different images due to the varying orientation of the spacecraft. Other unlabeled features in the processed images include the imperfectly removed images of background stars and other residual artifacts.

Although Styx and Kerberos are more visible in some frames than others, perhaps due to brightness fluctuations as they rotate on their axes, their identity is confirmed by their positions being exactly where they are predicted to be.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
New Horizon
The million outer planets of a star called Sol






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





OUTER PLANETS
Possible Polar Cap on Pluto Detected
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 30, 2015
For the first time, images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft are revealing bright and dark regions on the surface of faraway Pluto - the primary target of the New Horizons close flyby in mid-July. The images were captured in early to mid-April from within 70 million miles (113 million kilometers), using the telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera on New Horizons. A tec ... read more


OUTER PLANETS
European Space Agency Director Wants to Set Up a Moon Base

NASA's LRO Moves Closer to the Lunar Surface

Russia Invites China to Join in Creating Lunar Station

Japan to land first unmanned spacecraft on moon in 2018

OUTER PLANETS
Student Mars Rover team will compete in Utah desert

NASA Announces Journey to Mars Challenge

UAE says on track to send probe to Mars in 2021

4,000+ Martian Days of Work on Mars!

OUTER PLANETS
Welding Begins on Orion Pathfinder

Aitech Provides Subsystem and Computing Boards for Commercial Crew

The language of invention: Most innovations are rephrasings of the past

NASA Confirms Electromagnetic Drive Produces Thrust in Vacuum

OUTER PLANETS
3D printer making Chinese space suit parts

Xinhua Insight: How China joins space club?

Chinese scientists mull power station in space

China completes second test on new carrier rocket's power system

OUTER PLANETS
Manned mission to ISS to be delayed due to cargo spacecraft's failure

Progress Incident Not Threatening Orbital Station, Work of Crew

Russia loses control of unmanned spacecraft

Japanese astronaut to arrive in ISS in May

OUTER PLANETS
'Team Patrick-Cape' supports Pad Abort Test

Local launch expertise; world-wide attention

Successful SpaceX escape test 'bodes well for future'

ILS And Dauria announce Proton/Angara dual launch services agreement

OUTER PLANETS
Astrophysicists offer proof that famous image shows forming planets

Astronomers detect drastic atmospheric change in super Earth

New exoplanet too big for its star

Robotically discovering Earth's nearest neighbors

OUTER PLANETS
Scientists create cheaper magnetic material for cars, wind turbines

Researchers match physical and virtual atomic friction experiments

A silver lining

Space radiation: CSU studies risks for astronauts journeying to Mars




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.