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  Pluto and Charon -- Icy Guardians of the Outer Solar System


This portrait of Pluto and its satellite Charon was taken by Dr. Rudy Albrecht using the HST's Faint Object Camera on February 21, 1994. Pluto and Charon appear somewhat different colors indicating that their surfaces may contain somewhat different substances. Compare this image with newer ones taken by Marc Buie and fellow astronomer Dr. Lawrence Trafton of the University of Texas seen on Program #2 of LIve from the HST. The HST's ability to see Pluto as a disk instead of just a dot is a tribute to the quality of its corrected optics and the fact that it flies above the distortions introduced by the earth's atmosphere. To us on earth, Pluto appears about the same size as a baseball at a distance of 40 miles.

 
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