PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- New composite images released by NASA show Pluto and Charon lit up by the sun. The images were taken by New Horizons' cameras as the probe approached the dwarf planet and its moon.
The fully illuminated portraits are arranged like the face of a clock, each of them revealing different portions rotating in front of the sun's rays. A full rotation is achieved as the eyes follow the changing faces around the clock.
Each portrait is a composite image, combining the sharpest versions of each half. The blurrier halves reveal the sides of Pluto and Charon that were facing away when the probe made its closest approach.
The farthest and most blurry of the Pluto shots was taken at a distance of 5 million miles, snapped on July 7. The sharper half shows Pluto and its heart-shaped feature, Tombaugh Regio, from 400,000 miles, taken on July 13.
Likewise, the Charon portraits reveal the improving resolution as New Horizons covered 6.4 million miles in a matter of days.
New Horizons is now many hundreds of thousands of miles away from Pluto, pushing into the Kuiper Belt and setting its sights on even more distant and mysterious objects at the edge of the solar system.