All systems are up and ready as New Horizon is back on schedule for its flyby of Pluto on July 14th. With nine days left for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to flyby Pluto, Scientists were very upset when on Saturday the spacecraft suffered a computer malfunction.
A statement was released by NASA on Sunday in which they stated that New Horizons will resume normal science operations Tuesday after the July 4 “anomaly” caused it to enter “safe mode.”
After investigating the scientists found that there were no problems with the software or the hardware of the spacecraft. The problem occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby when there was flaw in the timing of the spacecraft’s command sequence.
NASA explained in the Sunday statement that they are not planning any more such operations for the remainder of the Pluto flyby.
The craft has been in the solar system since January 2006 and has been heading toward the one out of the five known moons of the dwarf planet. Pluto’s primary moon is called Charon. The nine year and 3 billion mile journey will reach its peak when on July 14th the spacecraft will make its closest approach to the icy dwarf planet flying within 7,750 miles, inside the orbit of Charon.
At first the scientists thought it might take several days to figure out and fix the glitch in the spacecraft, it is a lengthy process because New Horizon is at a distance of 3 billion miles from Earth and it takes 4.5 hours for a set of signals or commands to reach the spacecraft.
NASA said in the statement that it is very pleased with its mission team on how quickly they identified the problem and were able to fix it.
“Now, with Pluto in our sights – we’re on the verge of returning to normal operations and going for the gold,” said Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science
NASA’s New Horizon cost $700 million and was launched in Cape Canaveral, Fla.