Take the 2-minute tour ×
Astronomy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for astronomers and astrophysicists. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was looking over some of the data for the terrestrial planets, and noticed that Venus, despite its cloud covering, had been mapped by the Arecibo Observatory. Also that other planets such as mars, and some of the Jovian moons were mapped by the Voyagers. So, do any maps exist for Pluto or its moons?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Wikipedia article for Pluto shows a low-resolution map of the surface, generated from Hubble images:

Spinning animated gif of Pluto

And the Wikipedia article for Pluto's largest moon Charon shows a low-resolution map of the Pluto-facing side of Charon (not to scale):

Charon map

Larger image here.

Only the Pluto-facing side is shown because the map was generated from brightness variations during Pluto–Charon occultations.

Maps with similar resolution would show no details of any of the other moons, which are much smaller.

Expect much better images in a couple of years, likely including moons that haven't yet been discovered.

share|improve this answer
+1 also Charon and Pluto are tidally locked, so mapping Charon on several orbits would always produce an image of more or less the same face, short of their angle to the Earth changing as us and them precess in two separate orbits around the Solar barycenter. Since that is a terribly slow process (247.68 years) and their orbit inclined to the Solar ecliptic, this process will take a long time and we ought to have a few probes there by then doing it a whole lot better. ;) –  TildalWave Oct 8 '13 at 2:20
@TildalWave: If we could directly image the surface of Charon, mapping the entire surface should be feasible. Pluto and Charon revolve around each other every 6 days or so; during that time, all parts of the surface of both bodies face Earth (except perhaps for the polar regions). The Charon map I included in my answer is limited because only the Pluto-facing side of Charon faces Earth during an occultation. –  Keith Thompson Oct 9 '13 at 20:55

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.