It's Official: New Horizons Survives Pluto Flyby

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New Horizons Flight Controllers celebrate after they received confirmation from the spacecraft that it had successfully completed the flyby of Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in the Mission Operations Center.
A signal received from the New Horizons spacecraft shows that it survived its historic encounter with Pluto. 

The signal took 4 hours and 25 minutes to traverse 4.7 billion km of space to reach Nasa's communications antennas in Madrid, Spain.

Data in its first home call since Tuesday's flyby suggest the spacecraft experienced no upsets as it hurtled past the icy world at a speed of 14 kilometer per second.
"We are in lock with telemetry from the spacecraft," said mission operations manager Alice Bowman as confirmation was received. "We have a healthy spacecraft, we have recorded data from the Pluto system, and we are outbound from Pluto," she added.

Nasa's administrator Charles Bolden said: "With this mission, we have visited every single planet in the Solar System."

Pluto circles the sun every 248 years in a highly tilted orbit that creates radical changes from season to season. Pluto travels closer to the sun than the orbit of Neptune before it cycles back into the solar system's deep freeze more than 40 times farther away than Earth.

Scientists have many questions about Pluto, which was still considered the solar system's ninth planet when New Horizons was launched in 2006. Pluto was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" after the discovery of other Pluto-like spheres orbiting in the Kuiper Belt, the region beyond the eighth planet, Neptune. The objects are believed to be remnants from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

"Now the solar system will be further opened up to us, revealing the secrets of distant Pluto," British cosmologist Stephen Hawking said in a message broadcast on NASA TV. "We explore because we are human and we want to know. I hope that Pluto will help us on that journey," Hawking said.

It will take about 16 months for New Horizons to transmit back all the thousands of images and measurements taken during its pass by Pluto. By then, the spacecraft will have traveled even deeper into the Kuiper Belt, heading for a possible follow-on mission. 

source:- BBC, REUTERS.


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