NASA Unveils Mosaics Of Pluto With Its Largest Moon Charon

Posted: Oct 21 2015, 4:39am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 21 2015, 9:57pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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NASA unveils Mosaics of Pluto with its Largest Moon Charon
A photo of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh is embedded in this mosaic of hundreds of images shared during the #PlutoTime campaign. / Credits: NASA/JPL

NASA has begun a scheme called Pluto Time. It has revealed mosaics of the planet Pluto made from pics and along with that its moon Charon is also shown.

NASA has taken to showing mosaics of Pluto and its moon Charon in the form of composite pics. The world’s astro-fanatics are giving a massive response to its #PlutoTime social media campaign. Kickstarted by the New Horizons group, the project allows people who are interested to view the degree of sunlight on the surface of Pluto at around noontime.

NASA’s Pluto Time Widget has had about 339,000 visits since it started. Among these may be included over 7000 pics from all over the Global Village. The countries that had their inhabitants send in the images include in their repertoire: the U.S., Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada, Brazil, Qatar, France, Australia, Romania, India, Columbia, Venezuela, Egypt, Greece, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, England, Malaysia, Uruguay and Spain.

These pics have been collated in the form of three mosaics comprising Pluto, its moon and a mosaic of both Pluto and Charon in close propinquity.

Most of the pics consist of selfies, pet images and monuments from around the world. There are thousands of these such pics and they could form a very large mosaic. The whole idea was launched when a legitimate question was asked which went something like this: How will we catch images of Pluto when it receives little to no sunlight? Thus a web tool got made in the end.

“We realized that we could make a web tool that would estimate approximately when the light levels dropped to Pluto levels,” said Alex Parker, research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

“We looked up tables of illumination levels during various stages of twilight -- used to determine when streetlights come on and such -- and determined how low the sun would need to be on a clear day to match Pluto. After that is was a matter of doing the math.”

After the mathwork was done things were all set for an image of Pluto along with its moon Charon. From 1500 to 2100 images were employed for each mosaic. Some of the images underwent a little bit of repetition so that the proper texture and hue could be maintained in the series of mosaics.

The mosaic was made with the idea in mind that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Thus Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto in 1930 was given a thumbs up in the form of his picture alongside his telescope towards the center of the mosaic.

Tombaugh’s 9 inch home-made telescope helped descry the planet that lay on the furthest edge of the solar system. The region towards Pluto’s center is termed Tombaugh Regio in honor of this worthy gentleman who increased our knowledge of the universe. The planet Pluto is at least 3 billion miles away from earth. Yet #PlutoTime makes it seem almost a heartbeat away.

“It’s gratifying to see the global response to Pluto Time, which allowed us to imagine what it’s like on Pluto, some three billion miles away,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “This is a wonderful example of how space exploration and science unite us with a common bond.”

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