The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter “safe mode” on July 4 has concluded that no hardware or software fault occurred on the spacecraft. The underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby. No similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.
“I’m pleased that our mission team quickly identified the problem and assured the health of the spacecraft,” said Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science. “Now – with Pluto in our sights – we’re on the verge of returning to normal operations and going for the gold.”
Preparations are ongoing to resume the originally planned science operations on July 7 and to conduct the entire close flyby sequence as planned. The mission science team and principal investigator have concluded that the science observations lost during the anomaly recovery do not affect any primary objectives of the mission, with a minimal effect on lesser objectives. “In terms of science, it won’t change an A-plus even into an A,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder.
By the way, a rather serious family emergency has come up and I may have my ups and downs over the next bit of time. That and the fact I am getting ready to move has my world a wee bit messy.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory lost contact with the New Horizons spacecraft for a little less than two hours yesterday. The bump in the road to Pluto came at 17:54 UTC yesterday.
The internal systems onboard the New Horizons spacecraft responded to the problem putting the spacecraft into “safe mode” and reiniitiated comminications with backup computer. Communications was restored at 19:15 UTC.
A New Horizons Anomaly Review Board was convened at 20:00 UTC to gather information on the problem and initiate a recovery plan based on telemtry received about the problem.
The review is ongoing, with less than 10 days to go before arriving at Pluto and the nine-hour round trip time for commmunications the Review Board is being very thoughtful about the response.
The image below from the LORRI camera on the New Horizons was taken 03 July 2015 from a distance of 21.7 million km / 13.5 million miles.
Image: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / NASA
The Russian ISS Progress 60 cargo ship will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 04:55 UTC / 00:55 EDT tomorrow morning (Friday 03 July 2015).
The ship will deliver 2,770 kg / 6,105 lbs of supplies including food, water, oxygen spare parts etc.
The cargo ship is scheduled to dock with the ISS on 05 July 2015 at 07:13 UTC / 03:13 EDT with coverage beginning at 06:30 UTC / 02:30 EDT.
Click here for streaming coverage of both launch and docking via NASA TV.
I should note this is the first Progress launch after the failed Progress 59 launch this spring.
I’ll post a replay once it becomes available.