No one's ever seen Pluto like this. And view will only be getting better.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is starting a "flyby" of the solar sytem's least respected planet, Pluto, and its moon, Charon. The photo above was taken Tuesday July 7 and released by NASA Wednesday as the robot spacecraft takes photos on its way by Pluto, with closest approach next Tuesday, July 14.

Scientists have named the dark area in the photo "The whale" and the light area next to it, "the heart," because of their shapes. The medium-dark area to the north doesn't have a name, but NASA reported it is 1,200 miles across (the distance between Seattle and San Diego).

The spacecraft spooked engineers Saturday, when it suddenly went into "safe mode," but it is now back operating normally after a 9-year, 3 billion mile journey.

We'll have more photos on when they become available.