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Charon

charon_(moon)[1]

 

Charon

 

Orbit: 19,640 km from Pluto
Diameter: 1206 km
Gravity: 0.278 m/s²
Orbital period: 6 days
Mass: 1.52e21 kg

Charon was discovered in 1978 by Jim Christy. Prior to that it was thought that Pluto was  much larger since the  images of Charon and Pluto were blurred together.

Charon is unusual in that it is the largest moon with respect to its primary planet in the Solar System (a distinction once held by Earth’s  Moon).  Some prefer to think of Pluto/Charon as a  double planet rather than a planet and a moon.

Charon’s radius is not well known. JPL’s value of 586 has an error margin of  +/-13, more than two percent.  Its mass and density are also poorly known.

Pluto and Charon are also unique in that not only does Charon rotate  synchronously but Pluto  does, too: they both keep the same face toward one another. (This  makes the  phases of  Charon as seen from Pluto very interesting.)

 images of Charon and Pluto were blurred together.

Charon’s composition is unknown, but its low density (about 2 gm/cm3)  indicates  that it may be similar to Saturn’s icy moons (i.e. Rhea).  Its surface seems to be  covered  with water ice. Interestingly, this is quite different from  Pluto.

Unlike Pluto, Charon does not have large albedo features, though it may have smaller ones that have not been resolved.

It has been proposed that Charon  was formed by a giant impact similar to the one that formed Earth’s Moon.

It is doubtful that Charon has a significant atmosphere.

 

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