New Horizons Back To Work 7th July To Prep For Pluto Flyby

You can probably imagine the sighs of relief coming from NASA scientists after they have concluded that no hardware or software failure caused the unexpected July 4th loss of contact between Earth and the New Horizons probe bound for Pluto. Having counted their losses and re-calculated their schedule, the scientists have also determined, again much to their relief, that there will be no delay in its schedule for its date with Pluto, which, provided there are no more anomalies, will proceed as planned on July 14.

On Saturday, New Horizons gave NASA quite a scare when it lost contact with Earth for more than an hour. While it served as a successful test of the probe's backup systems, the then unexplained incident left scientists scrambling and worried about the possible impact on the probe's Pluto flyby.

Fortunately, there was apparently no reason to worry. No hardware or software failure was determined. Instead, the initiating of the probe's "safe mode" was caused by a timing flaw in the command sequence used in one of the operations for preparing the probe for the flyby. Since no other such operations are planned between now and the flyby, New Horizons should be clear of any other issue.

Another cause for concern was the impact on the collection of science data as well as delays in the schedule. The good news, July 14 is still on track and New Horizons will actually resume its normal operations on July 7. True, there is some negative consequences for the probe's secondary objectives, but as far as the primary mission is concerned, New Horizons is good as gold.

SOURCE: NASA