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Old 09-07-2009, 04:32 AM   #1
eaglewingone
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Default New Horizons Wakes For Annual Checkout

New Horizons is up from the longest nap of its cruise to Pluto, as operators "woke" the spacecraft from hibernation yesterday for its annual series of checkouts and tests. The actual wake-up call went in months ago; the commands for New Horizons to power up and reawaken its hibernating systems were radioed to its computer before it entered hibernation on Dec. 16, 2008.
During hibernation, as the spacecraft traveled almost 200 million miles toward its goal - the Pluto system - New Horizons sent back weekly status reports as well as biweekly engineering telemetry reports.

Then at 6:30 a.m. EDT on July 7, operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL) in Laurel, Md., contacted the craft through NASA's Deep Space Network and began downloading data on its health.

"Everything is working normally," says Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager at APL. "You're a little anxious because you have to turn on a lot of computer processors - they'd been off for 202 days - and you always take a chance when you turn something off in space. But the systems look good."

Tagged "ACO-3," New Horizons' third annual checkout offers the team a chance to flight-test some spacecraft updates, such as new software that manages the solid-state data recorders. The team will also turn on and check each of the seven science instruments, as well as the power, propulsion, and guidance and control systems.

Mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., says this ACO differs from the first two. "The ACOs have now become a summer event, switching from the fall to allow the team to get into the rhythm of spring planning and summer activity necessary for the July 2015 encounter at Pluto," he says.

"The second and even more significant difference between past wakeups and this one is that we're going to minimize activities in this ACO to save time for our mission planners, who are working hard to finish their Pluto encounter close-approach sequencing job by next year," he continues.

"And the minimal wakeup also saves us fuel, since we won't be de-spinning the spacecraft, conducting complex pointed observations with our scientific instruments, and then spinning up again to prepare for the next hibernation cycle."

The only busy scientific instrument on the spacecraft over the past eight months was the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (VBSDC), which quietly collected information on the number of dust particles along New Horizons' path through the outer solar system.

During the spacecraft's trek through hibernation - which covered 1.91 astronomical units, or more than 177 million miles - VBSDC was calibrated to gain information on the amount of background noise that can affect the science data and to test the sensitivity of its internal electronics. That dust counter data will be sent back to Earth this week.

"Students will analyze that data over the coming months and compare it to earlier measurements made closer to the Sun," says Andrew Poppe, lead graduate student on the SDC team at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "This will really improve our understanding of the dust environment in the outer solar system."

New Horizons is now 1.19 billion miles (nearly 1.92 billion kilometers) from Earth, speeding away from the Sun at just over 10 miles per second. At that distance, radio signals (traveling at light speed) from home need an hour and 46 minutes to reach the spacecraft. The spacecraft is scheduled to complete ACO-3 and re-enter hibernation on August 27.
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Old 09-07-2009, 04:43 AM   #2
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Location as of June 30

June 8, 2001 — New Horizons picked by NASA over a competing design, POSSE (Pluto and Outer Solar System Explorer).
June 13, 2005 — Spacecraft departed APL for final testing at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).
September 24, 2005 — Spacecraft shipped to Cape Canaveral, through Andrews Air Force Base, aboard a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft.
December 17, 2005 — Transported from Hazardous Servicing Facility to Vertical Integration Facility at Launch Complex 41.
January 11, 2006 — Primary launch window opened. Launch delayed for further testing.
January 16, 2006 — Atlas V rocket launcher, serial number AV-010, rolled out onto pad.
January 17, 2006 — First day launch attempts scrubbed because of unacceptable weather conditions (high winds).
January 18, 2006 — Second launch attempt scrubbed because of morning power outage at the Applied Physics Laboratory.
January 19, 2006 — Successful launch at 14:00 EST (19:00 UTC) after brief delay due to cloud cover.
April 7, 2006 — The probe passed Mars' orbit.
Early May, 2006 — The probe entered the asteroid belt.
June 13, 2006 — The probe passed closest to the asteroid 132524 APL in the Belt at about 101,867 km at 04:05 UTC. Pictures were taken.
Late October, 2006 — The probe left the asteroid belt.
November 28, 2006 — First faint image of Pluto taken from a distance released.
January 8, 2007 — Start of Jupiter encounter.
January 10, 2007 — Long distance observations of outer moon Callirrhoe as a navigation exercise.
February 28, 2007 — Jupiter flyby. Closest approach occurred at 05:43:40 UTC at 2.305 million km, 21.219 km/s.
March 5, 2007 — End of Jupiter encounter phase.
June 8, 2008 — The probe passed Saturn's orbit.
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Old 19-07-2009, 03:49 PM   #3
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Over 3 years of travel, at that speed, and not even halfway there yet.

These missions are getting longer and longer. Some of these scientists can now spend most of there career on a single mission. Look how long Caroline Porco has been working on Cassini.

It doesn't bother me, though. It gives me something to look forward too. I've been following this mission all a long. It's starting to get really exciting.
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Old 19-07-2009, 04:56 PM   #4
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3cm in only 3 years? Is that pic to scale?

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Old 19-07-2009, 09:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle View Post
3cm in only 3 years? Is that pic to scale?

i

Last edited by eaglewingone; 19-07-2009 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 19-07-2009, 09:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTracy View Post
Over 3 years of travel, at that speed, and not even halfway there yet.

These missions are getting longer and longer. Some of these scientists can now spend most of there career on a single mission. Look how long Caroline Porco has been working on Cassini.

It doesn't bother me, though. It gives me something to look forward too. I've been following this mission all a long. It's starting to get really exciting.
The reason why missions take so long is because spacecraft are using gravity assists. Gravity assists or slingshots help save fuel. A gravity assist from Saturn help propel Voyager One into interstellar space.Voyager's hydrazine fuel and power supply seems to be holding up.Voyager 2 is still communication with the Goldstone Deep Space Dish which is about a two hour drive from where I am standing.What is nice about gravitational assists around planets that we have chance to explore them further and the nature interstellar space.

Last edited by eaglewingone; 19-07-2009 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 19-07-2009, 10:38 PM   #7
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This is a "family portrait" taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 at a distance 4 billion miles. Carl Sagan was pushing JPL for years to do these series of photos. By the way, the did make a Voyager 3 but never launched it. It is currently a museum piece at the Jet Propulsion Labratory.

Last edited by eaglewingone; 20-07-2009 at 05:35 AM.
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