National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Planets
Pluto: Moons
   Facts & Figures   Education   Missions   News   FAQ 
   Back to Dwarf Planets   Overview   Read More   Moons   Gallery 
Color image of Pluto and its moons.
A Hubble Space Telescope image of Pluto and its moons. Charon is the largest moon close to Pluto. The other four bright dots are smaller moons discovered in 2005, 2011 and 2012.

Pluto's entire moon system is believed to have formed by a collision between the dwarf planet and another planet-sized body early in the history of the solar system. The smashup flung material that coalesced into the family of satellites observed around Pluto.

"The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls," said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The known moons of Pluto are:

  • Charon: Discovered in 1978, this small moon is almost half the size of Pluto. It is so big Pluto and Charon are sometimes referred to as a double planet system.
  • Nix and Hydra: These small moons were found in 2005 by a Hubble Space Telescope team studying the Pluto system.
  • Kerberos: Discovered in 2011, this tiny moon is located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra.
  • Styx: Discovered in 2012, this little moon was found by a team of scientists search for potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft flyby in 2015.

Scientists are searching for more possible moons orbiting Pluto and also signs of a possible debris field generated by the theoretical impact billions of years ago.

Pluto's Moons
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 14 Mar 2014