VIDEO: First close-up pictures of dwarf planet Pluto

Scientists have released the first close-up images ever of the planet Pluto and its big moon Charon.

The long-awaited images were unveiled on Wednesday in Laurel, in the US state of Maryland, home to mission operations for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.

A zoom-in of Pluto reveals an icy range about as high as the Rocky Mountains in the US.

On Pluto's moon, Charon, deep troughs and canyons can be seen.

The images were collected as New Horizons swept within 7,700 miles (12,400 kilometres) of Pluto on Tuesday, becoming Pluto's first visitor in its 4.5 billion-year existence.