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NASA just released the 1st clear photo ever taken of Pluto and its largest moon


July 11, 2015 – Right now a piano-sized spacecraft is barreling through space at over 3o,000 mph with an important destination: the dwarf planet Pluto and its system of five moons.

On Wednesday, the NASA spacecraft, called New Horizons, was 3.7 million miles away from Pluto when it used its LORRI (LOng-Range Reconnaissance Imager) camera to snap the first clear photo of Pluto ever taken. Here it is, with Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, on the left:

Even with a powerful telescope like Hubble, Pluto is simply too small and far away to get a good, clear look at it from Earth.

That’s why, in 2006, NASA launched New Horizons on its nine-year, 2.9-billion-mile journey to Pluto. Now the spacecraft has less than a few million miles left before its closest approach on Tuesday.

In this latest image, shown below in black and white, the spacecraft reveals two very different worlds: Pluto has distinctive contrasting dark and light colors on its surface, while Charon has a much smoother surface.

“These two objects have been together for billions of years, in the same orbit, but they are totally different,” Alan Stern, the principal investigator of New Horizons, said in a NASA statement.


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