Pluto and Charon in Color: Barycentric View

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Pluto and Charon in Color: Barycentric View
Release Date: June 11, 2015
Keywords: Charon, MVIC, Pluto, Ralph
The first color movies from NASA's New Horizons mission show Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, and the complex orbital dance of the two bodies, known as a double planet. This near-true color movie were assembled from images made in three colors - blue, red and near-infrared - by the Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera on the instrument known as Ralph. The images were taken on nine different occasions from May 29-June 3, 2015.

The movie is barycentric, meaning that both Pluto and Charon are shown in motion around the binary's barycenter - the shared center of gravity between the two bodies as they do a planetary jig. Because Pluto is much more massive than Charon, the barycenter (marked by a small "x" in the movie) is much closer to Pluto than to Charon. Looking closely at the images in this movie, one can detect a regular shift in Pluto's brightness-due to the brighter and darker terrains on its differing faces.

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Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
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