This New Horizons blog is a team effort between Cathy Olkin, the co-principal investigator of the New Horizons Ralph instrument, and Ralph instrument engineer Eddie Weigle.
Just as it takes teamwork to fly a spacecraft to Pluto – even tasks like checking the commands that are sent to the spacecraft are done by a team – we decided to team up on this blog to take you behind-the-scenes of interplanetary spaceflight. Specifically, we’ll tell you how we check the commands for New Horizons’ Ralph instrument to make sure they will accomplish the desired science objectives.
The Ralph instrument is the main “eyes” of New Horizons and is charged with making the maps that show what Pluto, its moons, and other Kuiper Belt objects look like. The instrument is so named because it’s coupled with an ultraviolet spectrometer called Alice in the New Horizons remote-sensing package – a reference familiar to fans of “The Honeymooners” TV show. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Cathy: A command load is a set of commands that are transmitted to the spacecraft’s computers from Earth – in our case, sent through NASA’s largest Deep Space Network antennas – which control the spacecraft’s activities. Sometimes the command load covers a ...