New Horizons Sends Last Bit Of Data From Pluto Flyby

Posted: Oct 29 2016, 3:24am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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New Horizons Sends Last Bit of Data from Pluto Flyby
Artist’s illustration of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft transmitting data back to Earth. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The data stored on NASA’s spacecraft has arrived on earth before starting the next leg of its journey

NASA’s New Horizon has successfully sent the last bit of data it generated from its Pluto flyby journey. The data had been saved on the spacecraft’s digital recorders since July 2015.

The data has completely arrived on earth from a distance of over 3.4 billion miles, or 5.5 billion kilometers. Even in light years the distance takes some time equaling to five hours and eight minutes at light speed.

The final data contained a segment of a Pluto-Charon observation sequence, collected over the last 15 months. The data arrived at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) on the 25th of October, through a NASA download link in the Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia. This was the last of the 50+ gigabits the New Horizon had in its system to document Pluto.

Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, stated the data sent by the spacecraft has amazed them over and over again.

The data shows all the beauty and complexity of Pluto along with its system of moons in sharp contrast. Stern also stated their work is cut out for them as it will take a great deal of work to understand the 400-plus scientific observations sent to Earth.

New Horizons was programmed to send home only data of the utmost importance. To ensure all the right data has reached home NASA’s team will conduct a final data-verification review.

Afterwards the two onboard recorders on New Horizons will be erased. Clearing the space on New Horizons hard disk will create more space for new data. This will be instrumental during the New Horizons Kuiper Belt Extended Mission (KEM).

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