Latest NewHorizons image of Pluto and Charon…with background stars!

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Finally! On Jul 7 at 22.41 UTC New Horizons captured the first images of Pluto and Charon after the computer problem that affected the probe on Jul 4. After the approximately 5 hours to travel to Earth and some processing time by the New Horizons team, the images are now available to the public.

These images have been taken from a distance of 7.8 million kilometers from Pluto. It’s amazing to think about the fact that this distance will be covered in the next 6 days, until the closest approach will be reached on Jul, 14 at 11:49:57 UTC.

The image below (click it to enlarge) is the result of a selective processing. The background sky has been stretched in order to increase the brightness of the tiny stars that were barely visible in the original images. Pluto and Charon have been processed selectively in order to enhance contrast and sharpness.

Pluto and Charon with background stars Jul 7 2015

Pluto and Charon with background stars Jul 7 2015 – Click to engarge

The already known heart-shaped feature is well visible here, as well as some more details on Charon. Charon’s details in particular are more evident in the crop below:

Pluto and Charon

Pluto and Charon

New Horizons will fly-by Pluto in less than 6 days. On the New Horizon’s live tracker page, you can follow a live simulation of how the approach would look like as seen from Earth:

Pluto's fly-by as seen from  Earth

Pluto’s fly-by as seen from Earth (click image to go to the tracker page)