The two smaller moons of Pluto revealed

Images from the recent passage of the New Horizons probe near the dwarf planet revealed intriguing shapes on the surface of two of its moons, Nix and Hydra. The smaller satellites of Pluto had never been seen in such detail.

In these photographs, published Tuesday by NASA, we can distinguish a red spot shaped target on Nix, and a huge crater on Hydra.

Nix, whose name is the goddess of the night, is a bean-shaped moon that is 42 kilometers long. A new colorful image, captured by New Horizons at a distance of 165,000 km from the natural satellite, suggests hints of a reddish-looking region of a target that scientists believe to be a crater.

Upcoming data, which contains information about Nix’s chemical composition, is awaited to determine why this region is so red.

Hydra, meanwhile, is 55 km long. A new black and white photograph, captured at a distance of 231,000 km, shows a variety of features, including two large craters. Hydre and Nix were discovered thanks to the Hubble telescope, which photographed them in 2005.

Lerna Hydra is a nine-headed creature from Greek mythology. This moon received this name while Pluto was still considered the ninth planet in the solar system, the H referring to the telescope that revealed it.

“Before last week, Hydre was only a pale point of light. So it’s a surrealistic experience to see it become a real place, seeing its shape and locating its features on its surface for the first time, “says Ted Stryck, a senior scientist at the college of science. Roane County, Tennessee.

Spectacular images are expected Friday

Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetology department, announced that new images from the New Horizons spacecraft will be made public on Friday. According to him, the images will be “pretty spectacular”.

During last week’s historic flyby of News Horizons, the spacecraft approached 12,392 km from the surface of Puton and immortalized plains and mountains on the surface of the dwarf planet.

Close-ups of the largest moon of Pluto, Charon, revealed by the probe on July 13, showed huge canyons and a mysterious mountain seeming to come out of a ditch.

Pluto has five natural satellites. Photos of the two moons still to be explored by New Horizons, Styx and Kerberos will be sent to Earth in a few months.

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