New Horizons Set to Return to Normal Operations on Tuesday

In NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the New Horizons probe is moved toward a work stand for a checkout on Sept. 25, 2005. The 1,054-pound, piano-sized spacecraft is topped by a high-gain dish antenna to transmit data across three billion miles back to Earth. (Credit: NASA)
In NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the New Horizons probe is moved toward a work stand for a checkout on Sept. 25, 2005. The 1,054-pound, piano-sized spacecraft is topped by a high-gain dish antenna to transmit data across three billion miles back to Earth. (Credit: NASA)

LAUREL, MD (NASA PR) — NASA’s New Horizons mission is returning to normal science operations after a July 4 anomaly and remains on track for its July 14 flyby of Pluto.

The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter “safe mode” on July 4 has concluded that no hardware or software fault occurred on the spacecraft. The underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby. No similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.

“I’m pleased that our mission team quickly identified the problem and assured the health of the spacecraft,” said Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science. “Now – with Pluto in our sights – we’re on the verge of returning to normal operations and going for the gold.”

Preparations are ongoing to resume the originally planned science operations on July 7 and to conduct the entire close flyby sequence as planned. The mission science team and principal investigator have concluded that the science observations lost during the anomaly recovery do not affect any primary objectives of the mission, with a minimal effect on lesser objectives. “In terms of science, it won’t change an A-plus even into an A,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder.

Adding to the challenge of recovery is the spacecraft’s extreme distance from Earth. New Horizons is almost 3 billion miles away, where radio signals, even traveling at light speed, need 4.5 hours to reach home. Two-way communication between the spacecraft and its operators requires a nine-hour round trip.

Status updates will be issued as new information is available.

  • DavidR2015

    OFF TOPIC:
    Meanwhile regarding another recent anomaly that was rather closer to home, Elon Musk has tweeted:
    “Expect to reach preliminary conclusions regarding last flight by end of
    week. Will brief key customers & FAA, then post on our website.”

  • Michael Grigoni

    MORE OFF TOPIC:

    How hard can it be? Perhaps this is Elon’s inspiration (filmed in 1960 and eerily prescient):

    https://youtu.be/JbfDVDHsPIA
    (view in HD – click on the gear icon to select)

  • Aerospike

    I guess this video alone should be enough to invalidate Blue Origin’s “patent” on using a barge to land a rocket. 🙂

  • Snofru Chufu

    This scene is from Soviet movie, named Небо зовёт (The Sky Calls) made in 1959, but see no slam-style landing was used (landing is about 1:06:00 min). They knowed it better. 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faL43FxLnSU

  • Kapitalist

    Seems great! I love tech history, I have to watch it when I have time (and find the subs).

  • Snofru Chufu

    There is also US-version from 1960, however the fim was in my view changed in a bad manner for US market needs. BTW, I have also the feeling that we stepped back in context with our vision of manned space-flight.

  • therealdmt

    Interesting. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it, but I watched a good section of it just now.

  • Paul_Scutts

    Thanks for the link, Snofru. Watched the film (well most of it), I’m sure glad that those misguided Capitalists saw the error of their ways and came to appreciate the kindly benefits of Socialism. Hang on, that’s not the way it turned out in the early 90’s … aw shucks. 🙂

  • Snofru Chufu

    I believe it was not easy produce any movie in Soviet Union (or communist block as whole) without such ideological message. I assume most viewers did ignore it. The regimes required that those movies are tools to show the advantages of the socialist system. BTW, this was not very different in the USA/West, but it was done much more sophisticated and subliminal.