Pluto’s tiniest moon ‘Kerberos’ smaller than previously thought: images reveal
American space agency NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent multiple images of dwarf planet Pluto’s tiniest moon called Kerberos, revealing new facts about the far-flung space rock.
Images captured by the spacecraft using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), revealed that Kerberos is smaller than scientists estimated. It is around 7.4 miles or 12 kilometers across on its longest side and 2.8 miles or 4.5 kilometers across on its shortest side.
Just like Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the Pluto’s tiniest moon is comprised of two lobes, which suggests that it might have formed by the merger of two separate objects.
It was Kerberos’ strong gravitational influence on its companions that misled scientists into believing that it could be larger in size. New images revealed that the scientists’ that prediction was incorrect.
Project scientist Hal Weaver of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) said, “Once again, the Pluto system has surprised us. Our predictions were nearly spot-on for the other small moons, but not for Kerberos.”
The tiny moon is also expected to contain water in some form. Scientists say the brightness of its surface suggests presence of water ice on it.
The American space agency is now shifting New Horizons’ trajectory to allow the spacecraft to explore a new Kuiper Belt Object (KBO).
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