Spectacular Charon

The yearlong stream of Christmas presents from New Horizons continues!  This week you may already have heard about the stunning views of Charon, but if not, here they are!

Even in the lower res images returned earlier, Charon looked fantastic.  A world unlike any other, unlike Pluto even, with a relatively young surface and some startling surface features, such as a huge canyon, a three-mile-high mountain in the middle of a sort of natural moat, the weirdly reddish northern polar region (Mordor Macula), and tremendous canyons and cliff complexes that boggle the mind.  Oh, and it’s a *nerdy* world too, as they gave the features names from science fiction.  Maculas get names from fictional places (and Whovians rejoice, for one of them is Gallifrey!), craters and mountains are people (either characters or authors), and canyons (“chasma”) are named for spacecraft — and yes, one of them is Tardis Chasma.  (Should be TARDIS Chasma, in my opinion, but it’ll get whatever capitalization they submit to the IAU.)

Anyway, feast your eyes on this stunning color view of Charon, with colors enhanced for easier viewing.  There’s a great deal more detail than in the past images we’ve seen.

Charon-Neutral-Bright-Release_sm

And NASA put together this amazing flyover animation, alas in black and white, to give you a taste of what it would be like to be there:

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