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New Horizons shows Crazy Charon in close-up

Well, they did it again. The NEW HORIZONS team released an image that has sent jaws plummeting to the floor faster than a Kardashian turning towards a camera. This time they have shown us Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, in stunning detail, and the new image shows just what a crazy body it is. I mean, it is **insane**. Think I’m overdoing it? Just LOOK at it…!

Charon-Neutral-Bright-Release b

Look at that enormous valley system bisecting the moon, looking spookily reminiscent of Valles Marineris on Mars! Look at that dark basin at the top of the moon, like a huge coffee stain! Look at all the craters surrounded by systems of rays! (Only in the northern hemisphere tho; the southern hemisphere seems a lot flatter and less colourful.) And look over there, on the limb almost…

two

On the right is what looks like a mountain sinking into the ground, and a short distance away a hole. Did that once have a mountain in it too? Did the ground there swallow a mountain? Or is it just a hollow in the surface? No idea. I just know that that… is… nuts

And if you take that released image and work on it a bit – sharpening it up, boosting the contrast and levels and saturation, etc – a lot more subtle detail jumps out at you…

Charon-Neutral-Bright-Release b2…but your eyes keep going back to that valley, don’t they?

valleyFrom the NASA press release: “High-resolution images of the Pluto-facing hemisphere of Charon, taken by New Horizons as the spacecraft sped through the Pluto system on July 14 and transmitted to Earth on Sept. 21, reveal details of a belt of fractures and canyons just north of the moon’s equator.  This great canyon system stretches more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across the entire face of Charon and likely around onto Charon’s far side. Four times as long as the Grand Canyon, and twice as deep in places, these faults and canyons indicate a titanic geological upheaval in Charon’s past.

…and if you turn the processing dial all the way up to “OH MY GOD!!! WHAT DID YOU DO?????” you get this…

Charon-Neutral-Bright-Release b2crazyNow, I know what some of you are thinking: why did you DO that???? Well, because sending everything almost off the chart, to make what is effectively a “false colour image”, really highlights subtle differences in colour and texture on the surface. Usually I *hate* false colour images, but in Charon’s case I’ll make an exception, because you can see more clearly just how far that red-hued polar cap extends; how the valley system is surrounded by material that’s darker than the surrounding plain; how systems of rays extend really quite away from some of the craters, rays that spread away more in one direction than others. And if you isolate the polar basin, like this…

basin pole…you can see a wealth of detail and structure in there: craters, ridges, and more.

Time to update our “Before and After” image, I think…

collage charon oct2

Today, Friday, we should have another batch of images given to us by the NEW HORIZONS team. I wonder what they will show..?🙂

One Response

  1. […] darunter erzeugt. Auch [NACHTRÄGE: Artikel hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier, hier und hier und] ein Ausblick auf das 2. Ziel von New […]

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