Contact has been re-established between NASA and New Horizons

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NASA has been able to breathe a sigh of huge relief as the probe of the New Horizons has got back in touch with them. Contact was re-established with the Deep Space Network 13 hours and five minutes after the historic flyby took place.


[Image Source: NASA]

NASA is now celebrating the success of the exploration of Pluto and it has managed to provide scientists with more information that may give them a better insight into the Solar System. The delay has been a long one as distances between them are huge. At the moment Pluto is around 4.77 billion kilometres from Earth and this means that the signals from the New Horizons to earth take 4 hours and 24 minutes. Along with this when undergoing the flyby the craft had been in position to bear the 7 scientific instruments on the planet and so the antenna hadn’t been in the right position for transmitting back to earth.


[Image Source: NASA]

NASA was then faced with frustration as the information remained in the memory banks of the craft and they were unable to get their hands on it. The download is restricted to just 2 kilobytes a second. The team is now focusing on getting status updates from the craft. However a spokesperson has said that it may be possible to get high resolution images tomorrow.


[Image Source: NASA]

The data that is being sent back has paid dividends already though as images shown during the time the New Horizons made its approach gave NASA an insight into settling a debate that has been ranging for 85 years, how large Pluto actually is. Thanks to them being able to use data taken from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager they have been able to determine that Pluto is 2,370 km in diameter and so it is larger than what was anticipated. It also means that it is the biggest object known in the Solar System beyond Neptune.

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[Image Source: NASA]

One of the highest resolution images has been seen and this was collected 16 hours prior to the flyby. A plain like feature that is informally called the heart was found measuring 1,600 km across and indications are that it is around billions of years old.

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[Image Source: NASA]

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