Today’s blog is from Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado—principal investigator for NASA’s New Horizons mission.
Did this get your attention? It sure got mine! This provocative image of a scale model of Pluto “hanging” over a harbor was produced by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and CuriosityStream.
Three weeks ago we put our New Horizons spacecraft into hibernation mode, the first time we’d done that since late 2014, before the Pluto flyby. By coincidence, that same day – April 7—was also the exact halfway mark on the calendar between our Pluto and Kuiper Belt object (KBO) flybys!
The hibernation period we’re in will last through mid-September. Every Monday between now and then, the spacecraft will check in with a health report, in which it sends one of seven possible “beacon tones” ranging from what we call “green” (meaning all’s well) to various shades of “red” (which mean something is amiss). On the way to Pluto we hibernated for a total of about 250 weeks during 2007-2014, and only saw a handful of red beacons over all those weeks. And so far in this hibernation, on all three Mondays, New Horizons has sent green beacons.