Did you know that in 2005 astronomers discovered that Pluto had two additional moons? Nix and Hydra were discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope. The names Nix and Hydra have roots in mythology. However, the “H” in Hydra also refers to the Hubble Space Telescope, which discovered the moons; the “N” in Nix refers to New Horizons, the space probe that was travelling to Pluto. The need to plot a safe course for New Horizons near Pluto, is what motivated scientists to take detailed photographs of the area, which is what led to the discovery of the moons.
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The first moon, Charon, was identified in 1978. The second and third moons, Nix and Hydra, were discovered in 2005. The fourth moon, Kerberos was discovered in 2011. The fifth moon, Styx, was discovered in 2012.
Nix or Nyx was the Greek goddess of darkness and night. She was also the mother of Charon. The typical spelling is ‘Nyx’, however, there was already an asteroid named Nyx. To avoid confusion, the official spelling was changed to Nix.
In Greek mythology, Hydra is the nine-headed serpent that fights Heracles. The nine heads reference Pluto’s status (then) as the ninth planet.