Nasa report that spacecraft just days away from Pluto

July 7, 2015 8:40 pm

After giving scientists a heart attack at the weekend, Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft seems to be recovering.
On
Sunday, Nasa reported that New Horizons – which is just days away from a
historic encounter with Pluto after nine years of travel – was
experiencing an anomaly. The craft went into safe mode and lost
communications with Earth for an hour.
The US$728 million ($1.1
billion) mission is meant to give us our first real observations of
Pluto, the mysterious dwarf planet that sits on the edge of our solar
system. It’s been zipping towards its goal since 2006, and the end –
July 14 – is in sight. By July 15, the public should have access to an
image of Pluto on-par with shots of Earth taken from .

Nasa reported that New Horizons – which is just days away from a
historic encounter with Pluto after nine years of travel – was
experiencing an anomaly.

But this hiccup is a reminder that no space mission is a guarantee and July 14’s flyby will require all the stars to align.
For
now, Nasa reports, things are back to normal. In fact, the spacecraft
won’t even have to change its mission plans, which would have
been the case had any software or hardware been damaged during the
anomaly.

Normal science operations will recommence today, and mission
scientists say that nothing vital will be lost because of the downtime.
“In terms of science, it won’t change an A-plus even into an A,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern said.
And
while some were spooked by Nasa’s weekend statement that the craft had
to be returned to its “original flight plan”, Nasa was referring to the
science plan, not trajectory.
We may lose a few of our
anticipated images and animations because of the downtime. But soon
enough, we should have unprecedented access to Pluto’s secrets.

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