Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Horizons Mission Update 12/26/13


NH spacecraft at Pluto


Mission Elapsed Time:
Beginning 19/1/06, 19:00:00
2898 Days (7.94 yrs.) 07 Hours 40 Minutes

Pluto Closest Encounter
Operations Begin:

12/4/15, 00:00:00 UTC
470 Days (1.38 yrs.) 21 Hours 19 Minutes

Pluto Closest Approach:
14/7/15, 11:49:15 UTC
564 Days (1.55 yrs.) 09 Hours 08 Minutes


For some reason this report came out late.  It must have been caused by the budget crisis and the sequester.   All  of NASA  was shut down as a result and it. It appears to have taken awhile for the missions to get up and running again like they had been doing in the past.  If it wasn't for Obama there may not be a NASA as Romney was against doing anything in space calling it a foolish endeavor and a waste of money.  But now to get on with what has been going on with this mission.

For someone who just came back from the future, Mark Holdridge looked pretty relaxed. The New Horizons mission manager sat outside mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory last July 14, watching the closing moments of a weeklong test of both team and spacecraft that replicated the closest nine days of flight toward and past Pluto – almost exactly as it will happen in July 2015. 

But before we begin that we must check out New Horizons current course and location:

New Horizons Course and Position in Three Dimensions:


Pluto #1


Pluto #2


Pluto #3


“We accomplished everything we set out to do, and then some,” said Holdridge, who oversees the effort to plan each step of the New Horizons Pluto encounter. “Everything was very much as it will be in 2015. I think that’s what really allowed us to learn a lot from the experience, figure out how to do things even better.”

Practice, Practice, Practice Part 1

For nine days in July 2013, it was July 2015. Operators programmed New Horizons’ onboard computers to “think” the spacecraft was approaching and passing Pluto, to the point it executed each command and movement of the actual encounter. Gathered at APL’s campus in Laurel, Md., mission navigation and operations teams guided spacecraft activity in real time; the science team examined simulated data in the same way they’ll download, analyze and distribute the real stuff when Pluto and its moons slowly reveal their secrets to New Horizons’ seven science instruments.

Practice, Practice Practice Part 2

“This rehearsal was the last big flight-vehicle practice we conduct before the encounter,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute. “Each aspect of it gets us ready for the one and only shot we’ll have to explore the Pluto system.”