G-pluto.T.gif (1179 bytes) Exploring The Planets

Pluto and Charon Imagery

Hubble Space Telescope Images

Hubble Optics Repaired

pluto Hubble images
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NASA/STScI Press Release Image

This image contrasts a ground-based telescopic image of the Pluto-Charon system with an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Because Pluto and Charon are so close, ground-based observations show them blurred together. However, Hubble is able to resolve the bodies separately. Taken before the Hubble Telescope optics were repaired in 1993, this image shows the degree of resolution obtained by Hubble was far greater than that available with ground-based telescopes. Here is a closer view of the Hubble image [69k GIF] - [14k JPEG].

Pluto and Charon

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Space Telescope Science Institute
#STScI-PR94-17 - May 16, 1994

This image of Pluto and Charon was taken February 21, 1994 shortly after the Hubble Space Telescope optics had been repaired. (Comparison with earlier Hubble imagery shows how drastically the resolution was improved.) This image suggests that Pluto and Charon differ in surface composition based on their color (Charon is bluer than Pluto). A bright surface feature may also have been revealed parallel to Pluto's equator.

Pluto's Surface

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Space Telescope Science Institute
#STScI-PRC96-09a-March 7, 1996, A.Stern(SwRI), M. Buie (Lowell Obs.), NASA, ESA.

This image of Pluto reveals surface features never before seen. The image was taken with the European Space Agency's Faint Object Camera aboard the Hubble Space Telescope in March of 1996. Click  to see  the full size image showing two small images in the upper left corner that are actual Hubble images, and two large images that a result of computer image processing of the Hubble data. The two images represent two hemispheres of Pluto, imaged by Hubble over Pluto's 6.4 day rotation. Some of the contrast between lighter and darker areas may indicate topographic features such as basins or impact craters across the planet's surface while most features revealed by Hubble may be a result of seasonal frosts and chemical deposits from Pluto's atmosphere. See: Pluto's unusual orbit.

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