Exactly 85 years after Pluto’s discovery, the NASA spacecraft set to encounter the icy dwarf planet this summer has spotted small moons orbiting Pluto.
Assembled into a seven-frame movie, the new images provide the spacecraft’s first extended look at Hydra (identified by a yellow diamond) and its first-ever view of Nix (orange diamond).
“It’s thrilling to watch the details of the Pluto system emerge as we close the distance to the spacecraft’s July 14 encounter,” added New Horizons science team member John Spencer, also from the Southwest Research Institute.
The first good view of Nix and Hydra marks another major milestone and a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary of Pluto’s discovery, he noted.
Nix and Hydra were discovered by New Horizons team members in Hubble Space Telescope images taken in 2005.