Friday October 19, 2018
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New Horizons all set to disclose Pluto’s mysteries

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New_Horizons_1By 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

 

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Chandra Observatory By NASA Back in Action

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance

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NASA's Chandra Observatory back in action. Pixabay

NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory, observing the universe in high-energy light since 1999, is back in action after suffering a glitch due to the failure of the gyroscope and going into safe mode last week.

The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode, according to the US space agency.

“The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode,” NASA said in a statement late on Monday.

The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve.

Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week, NASA said.

On October 10, Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode, in which the observatory is put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun.

Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of five years. In 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years.

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October. Flickr

The US space agency said that it was also continuing to work towards resuming science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope that on October 5, entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) being used to point and steady the telescope failed.

Gyroscopes help spacecraft maintain proper orientation.

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Till that time, science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

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Besides Chandra and Hubble, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is also almost out of fuel. Kepler has found about 70 per cent of all known alien worlds to date.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October.

The space agency’s Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity too have faced issues of late. (IANS)

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