Spacecraft Sails By Pluto, Phones Home
Scientists rejoiced when New Horizons sent a signal confirming its safe passage past Pluto, setting the stage for amazing photos expected from the flyby.
Laurel, Md.It was just a trickle of 1s and 0s, but the string of numbers had sped across the solar system at the speed of light for 4.5 hours. Then, at 8:52 p.m. EDT, that signal collided with an antenna on Earth.
In the control center, New Horizons mission operation manager Alice Bowman ran through a series of checks. Every system on board the spacecraft reported back healthy. The expected amount of data had been collected. No safe mode events had occurred. Then, Bowman recited the words everyone had been waiting to hear: “We have a healthy spacecraft, we’ve recorded data from the Pluto system, and we’re outbound from Pluto.”
The place erupted.
New Horizons had survived its trip through the Pluto