Pluto Bound Spacecraft Loses Contact With Earth Temporarily

Monday, July 06, 2015

New Horizons

NASA’s ambitious mission - New Horizons space probe that is bound to make a historic flyby of Pluto lost its contact temporarily with the mission control on earth for an hour and 21 minutes on 4 July. The incident occurred when the 700 million dollar mission was just ten days away from Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

Scientists from John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland were however successful in restoring communication with the probe mission via Nasa’s Deep Space Network Antennas. NASA expects the recovery time for the spacecraft to be between one and seven days.

Soon after the probe mission lost its contact with earth, the autonomous pilot onboard the spacecraft switched on the backup computer and placed the vehicle on safe mode. The spacecraft then started transmitting telemetry to help engineers on earth diagnose the problem. The vehicle was 4.8 billion kilometres from earth and 11 million kilometres from Pluto when this incident occurred. This is not the first time that New Horizons lost its contact with the earth. Back in 2007, just 14 months after its launch a memory error sent the spacecraft into safe mode.

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