Shadit Rahaman

Shadit Rahaman

Grade: 6

School: South Breeze School

City: Uttara, Dhaka

Topic: Charon


"One of the things that drive the human race to explore space is the need to want to know what or how something was made or how it got there or even maybe, why it was there. So keeping this desire to explore the unknown to want to know things and beyond, I would like NASA to further explore Pluto’s biggest moon, Charon, as it could be the first Double Planet revolving around the sun found in our own Solar System.

Pluto is considered to be a dwarf planet and is the most famous dwarf planet, without doubt. The biggest moon of Pluto, Charon, was discovered in April 29, 1965 on photographic plates taken from the United States Naval Observatory by James Christy and was identified as a bulge next to Pluto’s imagery. Then on July 7, 1978, his discovery was recognized by the International Astronomical Union. This was Charon’s discovery.

Artist's view of New Horizon and Charon
​Charon, also known as Pluto-I, is the largest out of Pluto’s five natural satellites. The first picture of this moon was taken by the New Horizon Spacecrat in 2015 during its Pluto flyby. The reddish-brown cap of Pluto is made up of tholins and macromolecules, which are the essential ingredients of life. These were made from methane and nitrogen and other related gasses released from Pluto’s atmosphere. This by itself is worth investigation, but wait there is more.

Talk about the formation of Charon had produced the theory where Charon’s formation was much like earth where two bodies collided and then started orbiting each other. But further research has contradicted this idea with the further study of Pluto and Charon’s Surface.

Charon and Pluto orbit each other every 6.387 days and are gravitationally locked with each other, so they see the same face of each other…all the time. The average distance between Pluto and Charon is about 19k kilometers. With time and the discovery of Charon, scientists were able to closely examine the Plutonian System. Charon is approximately half of Pluto’s size and 12% of its weight.

With updates from the observations from the New Horizons, the mass ratio between Charon to Pluto is 0.1218:1. This high mass ratio, the barycenter is outside of Pluto’s barycenter is outside of Pluto’s ratio. Because of these this system is referred to as the dwarf double planet or in scientific terms, circumbinary planets.

Since we now know Charon’s mass and volume we can find out its density. It is about 55% rock to 45% ice, whereas Pluto is 70% rock. It is thought now, with evidence of active cryogeysers, that it is a divided body like Pluto, rock core with iced surface. Charon’s surface is filled with many surface craters, but considerably less in the southern hemispheres, maybe due to a massive resurfacing event in an internal ocean.

In my opinion, Charon is the most interesting moon, other than Titan, that could have a slight chance of having life, so should be investigated."

Solar System News