Nine days after the unprecedented flyby of the mysterious dwarf planet, Pluto, NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft recovers from a computer crash, which temporarily halts scientific research.
The flight control group lost radio contact on Saturday for 80 minutes, when the spacecraft went into safe mode after control was transferred from the main computer to a backup computer. Causes of computer failure are under investigation.
The new horizons are located 3 billion miles from Earth, radio signals moving at the speed of light will take about 4, 5 hours to reach the Earth, and another 4, 5 hours to return the message to the spacecraft.
“Full recovery is expected to take from one to several days,” NASA wrote in a report on the state of the apparatus on Saturday. “New horizons will be temporarily unable to collect scientific data during this time.”
On Sunday, the dispatchers plan to transfer the final package of instructions to the spacecraft to prepare it for the July 14 fly-around of Pluto, the only large body in the Solar System that automatic spacecraft have not yet visited. The program Encounter includes software prohibiting New Horizons to go into safe mode, as it happened on Saturday afternoon.
“In Encounter mode, a short circuit on board is controlled by a smart autopilot, so if something goes wrong, instead of calling home for help, which most spacecraft do and how New Horizons did during a cruise flight, it will simply remain in temporary orbit. He will try to fix the problem, but it will increase the time, but if he calls home for help, he can skip the fly-through, ”Alan Stern, a leading scientist at New Horizons told Discovery News before the Saturday problem.
New horizons traveling to Pluto since January 2006, spending most of the flight in hibernation. He was resurrected in January 2015 to begin collecting scientific data on Pluto and its satellites, four of which were discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope after the New Horizons left Earth.
In order to return the New Horizons to the original flight plan, the team is conducting a recovery ship, reports NASA.