A few haunting seconds after the signal from the New Horizons spacecraft was supposed to be heard, it finally phoned home a little after 8:52 p.m. EDT. Transmitted over 4.5 hours earlier the radio signal came in to the Mission Operations Room at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab having covered 3 billion miles of space.
As the telemetry provided the health of the spacecraft the wonderful word 'nominal' was used over and over to describe each of the systems. In the end, 'The spacecraft is healthy' was the assessment given to New Horizons - the piano sized spacecraft that had survived the close approach to the last planet to be explored up close and personal.
New Horizons has been acquiring data all day and will be sending it back over the next 16 months.
We should get our first look of Pluto at closest approach, a shade under 7,800 miles, tomorrow. I am sure this will be something to see.
Here is what Pluto and its biggest moon Charon might look like on the dark side of Pluto:
|Charon Lights Up Dark Pluto|
NASA SWRI JHUAPL
Maybe we will see such an image. I know we will be amazed by what we do see!
Sky Guy in VA