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New Horizons "phones home" after Pluto flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

14-07-2015 21:39 CDT

Topics: New Horizons, mission status

After a wait of more than 22 hours with no communication, New Horizons "phoned home" precisely on schedule after its flyby of Pluto. The signal was received at 00:52:37 UT | 20:52:37 ET | 17:52:37 PT. As planned, New Horizons returned no images with the Phone Home downlink. But every bit of telemetry indicated that the flyby executed successfully. The thrusters used as much fuel as expected; no "autonomy rules" were called, indicating that the spacecraft computer did not reset; and most importantly, the solid state data recorders are now crammed full of data.

One science team member told me that the telemetry stream that includes spacecraft health information also contains realtime PEPSSI energetic particle data, so there is actually a teensy tiny bit of post-flyby science data on the ground.

Tomorrow will see two downlinks of data, one shorter and one longer. The downlinks will include one global view each of Pluto, Charon, Nix, and Hydra at different resolutions and three high-resolution images of Pluto from near closest approach. There will also be data from SWAP, REX, and Alice.

I heard lots and lots of commentary and interpretation of the color Pluto data but I am too tired to write it up today. A press briefing is scheduled for 19:00 UT | 15:00 ET | 12:00 PT. More tomorrow! Follow my Twitter stream for updates.

See other posts from July 2015


Or read more blog entries about: New Horizons, mission status


Mike: 07/14/2015 10:46 CDT

Thanks to everyone at The Planetary Society for helping make New Horizons' historic day even more amazing.

Mewo: 07/15/2015 01:05 CDT

Yeah! Way to go, New Horizons! Can't wait to see the super high resolution images.

Dan: 07/15/2015 02:28 CDT

The Planetary Society was due to release a time capsule once a message had been sent from Pluto - I know because I participated in it. Any chance the time capsule will be released?

sepiae: 07/15/2015 06:45 CDT

'On schedule,' 'as planned' and 'data recorders are now crammed full of data' - how excellent !! :) :) :) Get some utterly deserved rest! This reporting has already saved my week. re: Dan - Hi Dan, I believe that's already been done:

Gregk: 07/15/2015 06:52 CDT

I underestimated how much of an impact New Horizons would have on me. Those hours of silence were really scary. Such high stakes! There was only one chance to get it right and it's just so unbelievably far away. New Horizons really is one of the very outer limits of humanity's reach.

Vinnie B: 07/15/2015 10:44 CDT

Emily, Just wanted to thank you for all of your tweets and blog posts. I've been trying to follow all of the New Horizons news and found that you are a single source that doesn't miss a thing. Carl Sagan's Cosmos was the event that shaped my worldview. I can still watch it and get teary-eyed. The Pluto flyby has re-ignited those feelings. What a wonderful achievement.

Tom: 07/15/2015 12:42 CDT

What a great Birthday present! Thanks New Horizons team.

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