Image: NASA / Southwest Research Institute / Alex Parker / Friday
Hubble telescope set its sights on Pluto’s four small moons, which turn out to be eccentrics. Exciting tasks await NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which will reach the Pluto-Charon system in July
Astronomers see in Pluto and Charon a kind of planetary system en miniature, because both heavenly bodies revolve around a common gravitational center. The four remaining moons are not unaffected by this close relationship, as two scientists report in Nature. They not only observed the chaotic dance of two moons around Pluto, but were surprised by the characteristics of the quartet of small moons. Hopes are now pinned on NASA’s New Horizons robot, which will soon reach its destination after 9.5 years of flight and study the Pluto-Charon system up close. He was able to confirm the current observations and reveal even more surprising things.