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Mystery Photo

What in the world is it?

Mystery Photo
Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

Credit: (Courtesy of Marc W. Buie / Lowell Observatory)

Two disco balls? An electron microscope image of an atom and an electron? Not quite. What you’re seeing here is a map of Pluto (left) and its Moon Charon based on Hubble Space Telescope images and other brightness data gathered as the two worlds eclipse one other. Pluto and Charon are completely tidally locked in their orbit around one another. Standing either on Pluto or Charon, you would always see the same face if you are on the side toward the other body. The Pluto-Kuiper Express mission is tentatively planned for launch in 2003 and should encounter Pluto around the year 2012.


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