This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9 and downlinked to Earth the following day. It is the first color image ever made of the Pluto system by a spacecraft on approach. The image is a preliminary reconstruction, which will be refined later by the New Horizons science team. Clearly visible are both Pluto and the Texas-sized Charon. The image was made from a distance of about 71 million miles (115 million kilometers)-roughly the distance from the Sun to Venus. At this distance, neither Pluto nor Charon is well resolved by the color imager, but their distinctly different appearances can be seen. As New Horizons approaches its flyby of Pluto on July 14, it will deliver color images that eventually show surface features as small as a few miles across.
|Target||Pluto||Charon, Earth, Sun, Venus|
|Target Type||Dwarf Planet||Earth, Planet, Satellite, Sun|
|Instrument Host||New Horizons|
|Host Type||Flyby Spacecraft|
|Instrument||Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC)|
|Date in Caption|
|Image Credit||NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute|