NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, on its way towards Pluto, will reach its closest approach next July. This past July, the spacecraft snapped the big dwarf planet and its nearby moon for five days (July 19th-24th, 2014). Charon is 750 – 753 miles in diameter, the largest known moon compared to the size of its host planet. Some consider Pluto-Charon a binary planet.
The Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft was brought out of hibernation in July for a series of engineering and navigation checks. 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. Read more about the New Horizons mission
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.