Hemispherical Color Differences on Pluto and Charon

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Science  26 Aug 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4869, pp. 1070-1072
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4869.1070


Time-resolved multicolor photometric observations of Pluto-Charon mutual events have been used to derive individual colors for these two bodies and to investigate the degree of color differences between their synchronous facing and opposite hemispheres. Pluto is significantly redder than Charon, where direct measurements of the anti-Charon hemisphere of Pluto and the Pluto-facing hemisphere of Charon yield B-V magnitudes of 0.867 ± 0.008 and 0.700 ± 0.010, respectively. Both Pluto and Charon are found to have relatively uniform longitudinal color distributions with lσ upper limits of 2% and 5%, respectively, for any large-scale hemispherical color asymmetries. Thus, a previous suspicion of a significant color asymmetry on Charon is not confirmed. Instead the data may be attributed to a direct detection of polar caps on Pluto.