Color-enhanced image of Charon from the New Horizons probe. Notice the dark spot to the north, which is still a mystery of what material this is! Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Color-enhanced image of Charon from the New Horizons probe. Notice the dark spot to the north, which is still a mystery of what material this is! Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Good morning, Earthlings!

Hope you are all doing well! This week is starring Pluto's largest moon, Charon. (By the way, the technical pronunciation is Care-On, not Share-on). Charon, in the classical mythologies refers to the ferryman that would bring souls down to the underworld kingdom of Hades (aptly named).

Pluto and Charon share a unique dwarf planet-moon system in that they are gravitationally-locked about a common center of mass. This would be if you hold your friend's hands and spin really fast- you would feel a balanced tug and you are always facing the same direction with each turn. This is Pluto and Charon's system. Earth and its moon also share this orbital system!

Color-enhanced image of the dynamic duo! Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Color-enhanced image of the dynamic duo! Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Many planetary scientists believed that Charon would be "boring"- cratered and old and no direct features. New Horizons imaging systems brought this to a new light when Charon is now one of the most mysterious moons in the Solar System! Here are some amazing facts about Charon:

1) Charon is half the diameter of Pluto. Together they orbit every 6.38 days around each other. The distance between them is about 12,160 miles. 

2)Planetary images have revealed Charon to have valleys, mountains, and color variations in its icy crust. It is still unknown what its dark spot really is. 

3)There's a canyon just north of Charon's equator that spans more than 1,000 miles, cutting across its front and lingers to the back of the moon. Scientists say it was almost like the moon had split at one point. We are still not sure what is the cause of this canyon!

4) Though still informal, the names of features on Charon have been quite entertaining. Each feature, including craters, have been a reference to a science fiction work or character. There are Doctor Who, Star Trek, Alien, Firefly, and Star Wars referenced names so far and continues to be given names. Yes, there is a Vader Crater!

Thank you for visiting and next week will be about Meteorites: Through the Microscope!