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NASA releases first clear image of Pluto's small moon Nix

NASA

Today, NASA released the first crisp image of Pluto's jellybean-shaped moon Nix. The photo was taken by the New Horizons probe on July 14th as the spacecraft flew by Pluto.

Until now, the only close-up photo we had of Nix was a blurry, enhanced-color image. From that photo, NASA estimated that Nix is 26 miles long and 22 miles wide, shaped a bit like a football. This new picture, taken by New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), reveals the moon isn't smooth but rough around the edges. There also appears to be a large crater on its surface.

We've only known about Nix's existence for a short time. The tiny moon was first discovered in 2005 in images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It is one of four moons that orbit around Pluto and its largest moon Charon. Nix and the other small moons wobble around the planetary system in chaotic orbits, unlike the Earth’s Moon, which is tidally locked with our planet, according to a study published in Nature in June.


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