By NewsGram Staff-Writer
Washington: The mission team of New Horizons is back in action with the popular spacecraft as they start extracting the extensive data stored in its digital recorders. Seven weeks back New Horizons closely passed by Pluto to study its unexplored mysteries. The whole downlinking process will take around a year to conclude.
Principal investigator for New Horizon, Alan Stern said, “These pictures, spectra and other data types being gained will help us in understanding the evolution and the origin of the Pluto system for the first time.” The data takes around four and a half hour to cover the three billion-mile distance to reach the Earth even while travelling at speed of light.
During NASA’s announcement at Southwest Research Institute, Stern further added, “It has got best data sets, the highest-resolution images and spectra with the most important atmospheric details. It can contain much more than that too,”
During the data downlink phase, the spacecraft transmits science and operations data to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) of antenna stations, which also provide services to other missions, like Voyager. New Horizon Project scientist Hal Weaver explained, “The New Horizons mission has made us wait for many years, but from the small amount of data we saw around the Pluto flyby, we know the results to come will be well worth the wait.”
Since late July, New Horizons has only been sending back lower data-rate information collected by the energetic particle, solar wind and space dust instruments. The pace picked up considerably on September 5 as it resumed sending flyby images and other data.
The team is also looking forward to post new, unprocessed pictures from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) installed on the New Horizons.
With Inputs from IANS