19 July 2015

New Horizons mission to Pluto. The moons of Pluto. Styx.

Image of the Plutonian System. The family portrait of Pluto
consists of Papa Pluto, Mama Charon and the 4 kids: Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx. :)
Credit: HST jAPL SwRI NASA. 
Did you know that the last moon named Styx was discovered while looking for hazards to the New Horizons mission?

Keep reading.
The innermost and largest moon, Charon, was discovered by James Christy on June 22, 1978, nearly half a century after Pluto was discovered. This led to a substantial revision in estimates of Pluto's size, which had previously assumed that the observed mass and reflected light of the system were all attributable to Pluto alone.

Two additional moons were imaged by astronomers of the Pluto Companion Search Team preparing for the New Horizons mission and working with the Hubble Space Telescope on 15 May 2005, which received the provisional designations S/2005 P 1 and S/2005 P 2. The International Astronomical Union officially named Pluto's newest moons Nix (or Pluto II, the inner of the two moons, formerly P 2) and Hydra (Pluto III, the outer moon, formerly P 1), on 21 June 2006.

Kerberos, announced on 20 July 2011, was detected using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope during a survey searching for rings around Pluto. It was first seen in an image taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on 28 June. It was confirmed in subsequent Hubble pictures taken on 3 and 18 July. Styx, announced on 7 July 2012, was discovered while looking for potential hazards for New Horizons.