NASA Probe Take First Photo Of Pluto's 5 Moons

Pluto may not have full planet status anymore, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a moon or two... or five. And for the first time, NASA has managed to capture the dwarf planet and all five of those moons in a single photo. The image was taken by the New Horizons spacecraft and its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera. The spacecraft is scheduled for a flyby of Pluto on July 14th, and took a series of pictures from April 25th through May 1st, resulting in the historic photo.

Team members behind the mission say this is the first time the moons Kerberos and Styx can be seen in images. Pluto's largest moon, Charon, measures 648 miles (1,043 km) in diameter, making it roughly half the size of the dwarf planet. But the other moons are so small they're almost impossible to photograph, with Kerberos measuring about 4 to 13 miles (7 to 21 km) wide, and Styx at 6 to 20 miles (10 to 32 km) wide.

New Horizons was first launched in January 2006 with a goal of carrying out the first up-close survey of Pluto and its moons. Kerberos and Styx were only first discovered in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and New Horizons will be searching for any other moons in the coming days as it scans for objects that could create problems for the July 14th flyby.

The Spacecraft is poised to fly within 7,800 miles (12,500 km) of Pluto, providing the best look at the dwarf planet's surface since its first discovery in 1930. Member of the New Horizons mission team John Spencer comments that they are "on the threshold of discovery," adding "If the spacecraft observes any additional moons as we get closer to Pluto, they will be worlds that no one has seen before."

SOURCE: NASA