The Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has been bought out of hibernation for a series of engineering and navigation checks.
A minor course correction burn was completed on: Monday, July 14, 2014.
They will continue until the end of August when New Horizons will go back into hibernation until mid-January 2015. Afterwards, the spacecraft will be kept active right up until after the historic Pluto system encounter on: Tuesday, July 14, 2015.
The image above is from Monday, July 21, 2014.
Pluto and Charon seen dead center in this one-quarter-resolution frame from New Horizons’ LORRI (LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager) Camera.
Charon is at the four o’clock position with respect to Pluto.
Pluto and Charon were 426.51 million kilometers / 264.86 million miles away at the time from New Horizons and appeared in front of the stars in southern Ophiuchus.
Bottom line: New Horizons – en route to Pluto – is currently out of hibernation for a series of engineering and navigation checks, which will continue until the end of August 2014. The spacecraft will sweep closest to Pluto on July 14, 2015.
Andrew R. Brown, an avid follower of the space program, writes frequently about space topics for EarthSky. Over several years, he has also suggested observations that were carried out by imaging teams of some space missions. He has lives in Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom and works for local government, Kent County Council.