Charon, which orbits Pluto at a distance of 12,000 miles (19,000 kilometers), was the first Plutonian moon to be discovered in 1978. There are known to be 5 natural satellites orbiting Pluto: Charon, Nix, Hydra, and two newly-named additions, Styx and Kerberos. During flyby, New Horizons will come within 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto's surface.
"In addition to being a nice technical achievement, these new LORRI images of Charon and Pluto should provide some interesting science too," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute. It is hoped that through these types of early observations of the Pluto system information about Pluto and Charon's surface composition may be revealed.
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"We're excited to have our first pixel on Charon," added Stern, "but two years from now, near closest approach, we'll have almost a million pixels on Charon - and I expect we'll be about a million times happier too!"