Pluto and Charon: Strikingly Different Worlds

Pluto in front of Charon.
July 14, 2015
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This composite of enhanced color images of Pluto (lower right) and Charon (upper left), was taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it passed through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015.

Pluto was so unlike anything I could imagine based on my knowledge of the solar system. It showed me how much about the outer solar system we didn’t know. Truly shocking, exciting and wonderful all at the same time. - Jim Green, Director, NASA Planetary Science Division

This image highlights the striking differences between Pluto and Charon. The color and brightness of both Pluto and Charon have been processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon’s polar red terrain and Pluto’s equatorial red terrain. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC).