Since December 21, 2017; New Horizon, the spacecraft that has given us awesome pictures of Pluto had gone to the hibernation mode for saving resources on its extraordinary mission to the outer space. And now, NASA confirms, it has woke up on June 5.
The probe has been gone to hibernation two times since April 2017. While on hibernation mode, New Horizon runs on autopilot, only necessary components and few essential instruments powered on. And before hibernation, it is always given a list of commands. New Horizon sends back signals after waking up; it is ready for action and this time moving towards its next target, Ultima Thule.
New Horizon woke up 3.7 billion miles from earth, flying through the Kuiper Belt at the Ultima Thule at the speed of 1, 223, 420 km per day. The team of New Horizon will work on taking the probe out of spin state, making it stabilized from August 13.
They will try to use the cameras of New Horizon from the middle or late August. But the problem is, they want to go closer to the spacerock than they did with Pluto. Ultima Thule is just 20 to 23 miles in diameter, compared to Pluto; Pluto is 1, 500 miles. It’s extremely hard to see as it’s a dark body against a bright field of stars.
But there are challenges ahead for the spacecraft as the signals are taking much more time to reach earth, 12 hours! Compared o Pluto, we used to receive them in 9 hours. And New Horizon will perform the first of seven maneuvers to change its trajectory firing the thrusts in October.
So, today’s milestone is the beginning of the adventure, excitements are ahead as the probe’s flyby sequence will begin on Christmas.