Just in time, New Horizons announced himself to his excited flight control team, confirming that on Tuesday he approached Pluto. A large number of people gathered at the Mission Control Center at Johns Hopkins University, at the Laboratory of Applied Physics from Baltimore.
“We have a viable spacecraft. We have a connection with Pluto and we are recording data from its system, ”said mission manager Alice Bowman. After confirmation of the signal by dispatchers transmitted from New Horizons.
It took the ship more than 9 years to overcome 3 billion kilometers to Pluto, which until Tuesday was the largest unexplored part of the solar system.
Scientists and mission leaders, then had to wait another 13 hours after at 7:49 am (14:49 Moscow time), the device became as close as possible to the planet. There was a probability of collision with space debris in the ratio of 1 to 10,000.
“How often do we discover the secrets of a new world? We did it, how great it is, ”said Mark Holdridge, New Horizons mission manager.
“Your team is making history today,” said NASA assistant director of science John Gransfeld after New Horizons announced himself. New Horizons is back to work. Taking pictures and taking measurements from the lighted side of Pluto and its moon Charon is an initial task.
On Wednesday, New Horizons will begin to transmit images and scientific data collected during its flyby of Pluto and its five satellites. The speed of the apparatus is 31,000 mph. Images will have 10 times better resolution than previously obtained images.
“We haven’t seen anything yet,” said Gransfeld. He will receive data for more than a year, which will allow to clean all the recorders of the “New Horizons”. A piano-sized spaceship does not have enough fuel to decelerate a rocket. Therefore, circling Pluto in orbit, all its scientific experiments will be done on the fly, returning NASA to early intelligence, taking place in 1960-80.
New Horizons ends the era of interplanetary intelligence of the first stage, half a century long, which will leave a mark on our history forever, ”said the leading scientist of the project Alan Stern, from the southwestern research institute in Boulder, Colorado.
“Pluto received its first visitor,” President Obama wrote on his Twitter account. “Thanks to NASA, this is a great day of discovery and American leadership.”