Pluto probe has problems just 10 days before an epic flyby


In the event of such a glitch the spacecraft will detect something is wrong and the autonomous autopilot on board the spacecraft is programmed to switch from the main to the backup computer.

Members of an “anomaly review board” are currently working to get New Horizons back up to speed and also investigating to see what might have caused the issue explained the situation: “The autopilot placed the spacecraft in ‘safe mode,’ and commanded the backup computer to reinitiate communication with Earth.. New Horizons then began to transmit telemetry to help engineers diagnose the problem.”

Although the communications were regained mission officials are in alert as the recovery process can take several days. Only the time between sending the commands needed for this and the spacecraft receiving them is close to four and a half hours. This is due to the distance between Earth and the New Horizons spacecraft (close to 3 billion miles). Team members provided the following information in regards to the current status of the $700 million New Horizons mission which was initially launched in January 2006: “New Horizons will be temporarily unable to collect science data during that time.. Status updates will be issued as new information is available.”


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