The science team of NASA’s New Horizons mission has produced this global map of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. The map includes all available resolved images of the surface acquired between 7-14 July 2015, at pixel resolutions ranging from 40 kilometres (24 miles) on the anti-Pluto facing hemisphere (left and right sides of the map), to 400 metres (1,250 feet) per pixel on portions of the Pluto-facing hemisphere – the side facing the New Horizons spacecraft when it flew past the dwarf planet – at map centre. Many additional images now stored on the spacecraft’s digital data recorders are expected to be transmitted “home” in later this year and these will be used to complete the global map. The map is in simple cylindrical projection, with zero longitude (the Pluto-facing direction) in the centre.
Within Pluto’s informally named Vega Terra region is a field of eye-catching craters that looks like a cluster of bright haloes scattered across a dark landscape. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has revealed that the floors and terrain between the craters show signs of water ice, but exactly why bright methane ice settles on these crater rims and walls is a mystery.