Pluto’s Mysterious Moon Kerberos Revealed By New Horizons

Posted: Oct 23 2015, 8:22am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 23 2015, 8:11pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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Pluto’s Mysterious Moon Kerberos Revealed by New Horizons
Kerberos Revealed. This image of Kerberos was created by combining four individual Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) pictures taken on July 14, approximately seven hours before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto, at a range of 245,600 miles (396,100 km) from Kerberos. Kerberos appears to have a double-lobed shape, approximately 7.4 miles (12 kilometers) across in its long dimension and 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) in its shortest dimension. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
  • The Planet Pluto’s Moon Kerberos brought before our View

Images of the planet Pluto’s mysterious moon Kerberos have been brought before our view.

Pluto’s little moon named Kerberos had photos of it taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Many of them were sent to us earthlings this week. Pluto has several moons and Kerberos is the smallest one of them all.

It also reflects off a lot of light falling on its surface. Pluto is one planet that has sure surprised us via a series of facts that we never thought could be true about it. Kerberos, its tiniest moon, has a double lobe-shaped structure.

“Once again, the Pluto system has surprised us,” said New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

The large lobe is 5 miles in length and the smaller one is 3 miles in its total span. There is even a hypothesis that Kerberos was created from the colliding of two objects in the context of outer space. Many other moons of Pluto also show the same reflecting quality as Kerberos. It is a small wonder alright.

Kerberos also has a layer of squeaky clean water ice on its surface. Before this, the images we received of Pluto’s moons came courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. Kerberos was only a faint smudge on the horizon way back then.

By now the family portrait of Pluto along with all its moons is complete. The close flyby that occurred recently sure got some good pics of the planet and its satellites. Kerberos is a small bright gem in the atmosphere surrounding Pluto.

It appears to be an isolated little island in itself. However, the previous defective impression of Kerberos as dark and mysterious has been proven to be absolutely wrong. Pluto has a complex system of balanced satellites that surround it from all sides.

Especially Charon and the planet influence the gravitational field in such a manner that everything works out in the end on the solar scale. After all, the universe doesn’t need to consult the scientist’s handbooks to function.

Family Portrait of Pluto’s Moons: This composite image shows a sliver of Pluto’s large moon, Charon, and all four of Pluto’s small moons, as resolved by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on the New Horizons spacecraft. All the moons are displayed with a common intensity stretch and spatial scale (see scale bar). Charon is by far the largest of Pluto’s moons, with a diameter of 751 miles (1,212 kilometers). Nix and Hydra have comparable sizes, approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) across in their longest dimension above. Kerberos and Styx are much smaller and have comparable sizes, roughly 6-7 miles (10-12 kilometers) across in their longest dimension. All four small moons have highly elongated shapes, a characteristic thought to be typical of small bodies in the Kuiper Belt. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

“Our predictions were nearly spot-on for the other small moons, but not for Kerberos,” said New Horizons co-investigator Mark Showalter, of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

Pluto had been kicked out of the solar system as a viable planet a few years back. It is on the farthest edge of our system where we occupy the third rock from the sun. It is indeed a cold and desolate world that we find that far off. After flying by nearly all the other planets, a close-up view of Pluto was the last act of exploring our solar system on a basic level. Although we haven’t landed a rover on Pluto yet (Mars is the closest we have come to fulfilling that goal) it will hopefully occur one fine day in the future.

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