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The event gave scientists an unprecedented look into the structure and motion of the rising plume and its subsequent fall back to the surface.


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Infrared signatures of a further 36 volcanoes were noticed. The cameras determined their positions, acting as "reverse optical navigation". After passing Jupiter, New Horizons spent most of its journey towards Pluto in hibernation mode: redundant components as well as guidance and control systems were shut down to extend their life cycle, decrease operation costs and free the Deep Space Network for other missions. The first hibernation mode cycle started on June 28, , [] the second cycle began on December 16, , [] the third cycle on August 27, , [] and the fourth cycle on August 29, , after a week test.

A study based on 18 months of computer simulations, Earth-based telescope observations and occultations of the Pluto system revealed that the possibility of a catastrophic collision with debris or dust was less than 0. Although it was originally planned to activate just the VBSDC, other instruments were powered on the initiative of principal investigator Alan Stern who decided they could use the opportunity to collect valuable heliospheric data.

Before activating the other two instruments, ground tests were conducted to make sure that the expanded data gathering in this phase of the mission would not limit available energy, memory and fuel in the future and that all systems are functioning during the flyby. The command and data handling software was updated to address the problem of computer resets.

Other possible targets were Neptune trojans. The probe's trajectory to Pluto passed near Neptune's trailing Lagrange point " L 5 " , which may host hundreds of bodies in resonance. In late , New Horizons passed within 1. At that range, HM would have been bright enough to be detectable by New Horizons ' LORRI instrument; however, the New Horizons team eventually decided that they would not target HM for observations because the preparations for the Pluto approach took precedence. Distant-encounter operations at Pluto began on January 4, Investigators began taking Pluto and background starfield images to assist mission navigators in the design of course-correcting engine maneuvers that would precisely modify the trajectory of New Horizons to aim the approach.

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The exposure time was too short to see Pluto's smaller, much fainter, moons. The right side image has been processed to remove the background starfield. The yet smaller two moons, Kerberos and Styx were seen on photos taken on April Also in regards to the approach phase during January , on August 21, , the team announced that they would spend mission time attempting long-range observations of the Kuiper belt object temporarily designated VNH now designated KW 48 , when the object was at a distance from New Horizons of 75 gigameters 0.

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A second object was planned to be observed in June , and a third in September after the flyby; the team hoped to observe a dozen such objects through On July 4, , New Horizons experienced a software anomaly and went into safe mode, preventing the spacecraft from performing scientific observations until engineers could resolve the problem. The science observations lost because of the anomaly were judged to have no impact on the mission's main objectives and minimal impact on other objectives.

The timing flaw consisted of performing two tasks simultaneously—compressing previously acquired data to release space for more data, and making a second copy of the approach command sequence—that together overloaded the spacecraft's primary computer. After the overload was detected, the spacecraft performed as designed: it switched from the primary computer to the backup computer, entered safe mode, and sent a distress call back to Earth.

The distress call was received the afternoon of July 4, which alerted engineers that they needed to contact the spacecraft to get more information and resolve the issue. The resolution was that the problem happened as part of preparations for the approach, and was not expected to happen again because no similar tasks were planned for the remainder of the encounter. Mission managers estimated a one in 10, chance that debris could have destroyed it during the flyby, preventing it from sending data to Earth. The mission's science objectives are grouped in three distinct priorities.

The "primary objectives" were required; the "secondary objectives" were expected to be met but were not demanded. The "tertiary objectives" were desired. These objectives could have been skipped in favor of the above objectives. An objective to measure any magnetic field of Pluto was dropped. New Horizons had a relative velocity of Starting 3.

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This is half the rotation period of the Pluto—Charon system and allowed imaging of all sides of both bodies. Close range imaging was repeated twice per day in order to search for surface changes caused by localized snow fall or surface cryovolcanism. Because of Pluto's tilt, a portion of the northern hemisphere would be in shadow at all times.

Meanwhile, Alice characterized the atmosphere, both by emissions of atmospheric molecules airglow , and by dimming of background stars as they pass behind Pluto occultation. VBSDC searched for dust, inferring meteoroid collision rates and any invisible rings. REX performed active and passive radio science. The communications dish on Earth measured the disappearance and reappearance of the radio occultation signal as the probe flew by behind Pluto.

The results resolved Pluto's diameter by their timing and atmospheric density and composition by their weakening and strengthening pattern. Alice can perform similar occultations, using sunlight instead of radio beacons. Previous missions had the spacecraft transmit through the atmosphere, to Earth "downlink".

Pluto's mass and mass distribution were evaluated by the gravitational tug on the spacecraft. As the spacecraft speeds up and slows down, the radio signal exhibited a Doppler shift. The Doppler shift was measured by comparison with the ultrastable oscillator in the communications electronics. Reflected sunlight from Charon allowed some imaging observations of the nightside. Backlighting by the Sun gave an opportunity to highlight any rings or atmospheric hazes.

REX performed radiometry of the nightside. Estimates for the dimensions of these bodies are: Nix at Initial predictions envisioned Kerberos as a relatively large and massive object whose dark surface led to it having a faint reflection.

Soon after the Pluto flyby, in July , New Horizons reported that the spacecraft was healthy, its flight path was within the margins, and science data of the Pluto—Charon system had been recorded. By March 30, , New Horizons had reached the halfway point of transmitting this data.


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  • The New Horizons team requested, and received, a mission extension through to explore additional Kuiper belt objects KBOs. Funding was secured on July 1, However, despite the large population of KBOs, many factors limited the number of possible targets. Because the flight path was determined by the Pluto flyby, and the probe only had 33 kilograms of hydrazine propellant remaining, the object to be visited needed to be within a cone of less than a degree's width extending from Pluto. In , mission scientists started a dedicated search for suitable KBOs using ground telescopes.

    Large ground telescopes with wide-field cameras, notably the twin 6. By participating in a citizen-science project called Ice Hunters , the public helped to scan telescopic images for possible suitable mission candidates. On October 15, , it was revealed that Hubble's search had uncovered three potential targets, [] [] [] [] [] temporarily designated PT1 "potential target 1" , PT2 and PT3 by the New Horizons team.

    Each were at distances from the Sun of ranging from 43 to 44 AU, which would put the encounters in the — period. PT1 given the temporary designation "Y" on the HST web site [] , the most favorably situated object, has a magnitude of A mission to PT3 was in some ways preferable, in that it is brighter and therefore probably larger than PT1, but the greater fuel requirements to reach it would have left less for maneuvering and unforeseen events.

    By the fall of , a possible fourth target, MT 69 , had been eliminated by follow-up observations. PT2 was out of the running before the Pluto flyby. The necessary course adjustment was performed with four engine firings between October 22 and November 4, Aside from its flyby of MU 69 , the extended mission for New Horizons calls for the spacecraft to conduct observations of, and look for ring systems around, between 25 and 35 different KBOs.

    On December 5, , when New Horizons was Two hours later, New Horizons surpassed its own record, imaging the Kuiper belt objects HZ 84 and HE 85 from a distance of 0. Science objectives of the flyby included characterizing the geology and morphology of MU 69 nicknamed "Ultima Thule" , [] [] and mapping the surface composition by searching for ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane, and water ice. Searches will be conducted for orbiting moonlets, a coma, rings, and the surrounding environment.

    The new mission began on October 22, , when New Horizons carried out the first in a series of four initial targeting maneuvers designed to send it toward MU The remaining three targeting maneuvers took place on October 25, October 28, and November 4, The official approach phase began on August 16, , and continued through December 24, At that time, MU 69 was visible at magnitude 20, against a crowded stellar background in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

    The Core phase began a week before the encounter, and continued for two days after the encounter.

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    After the encounter, preliminary, high-priority data was sent to Earth on January 1 and 2, On January 9, New Horizons returned to a spin-stabilized mode, to prepare to send the remainder of its data back to Earth. After the spacecraft's passage by MU 69 , the instrument continues to have sufficient power to be operational until the s.

    Team leader Alan Stern stated the potential for a third flyby in the s at the outer edges of the Kuiper belt. In addition, New Horizons may take a picture of Earth from its distance in the Kuiper belt, but only after completing all planned KBO flybys. New Horizons has been called "the fastest spacecraft ever launched" [10] because it left Earth at However, it is not the fastest spacecraft to leave the Solar System. New Horizons ' Star 48B third stage is also on a hyperbolic escape trajectory from the Solar System, and reached Jupiter before the New Horizons spacecraft; it was expected to cross Pluto's orbit on October 15, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    This article is about the space probe. For other uses, see New Horizons disambiguation. First mission of the New Frontiers program; flyby reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto. New Frontiers program.

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    Main article: Exploration of Pluto. Main article: Long Range Reconnaissance Imager. Main article: Alice spacecraft instrument. Main article: Ralph New Horizons. Launch of New Horizons. The Atlas V rocket on the launchpad left and lift off from Cape Canaveral.


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    • Main article: Exploration of Jupiter. Jovian moons imaged by New Horizons. Io imaged on February 28, Europa imaged on February 27, , from a distance of 3. Ganymede imaged on February 27, , from a distance of 3. Callisto imaged on February 27, , from a distance of 4.