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.
In the latter part of June, Pluto is best seen low in the southern UK sky around 2am local time and reaches opposition on 7 July. The dwarf planet passes less than 1/20th of a degree south of naked-eye star pi (π) Sagittarii on 26—27 June in the deep twilight of the UK, but Southern Hemisphere observers will have the best views.
This feature appears to be a frozen, former lake of liquid nitrogen, located in a mountain range just north of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planum. Captured by the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Pluto on 14 July 2015, the image shows the possible lake to be about 20 miles (30 kilometres) across.