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Old 05-04-2008   #69
ablethevoice
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Gold Machine's Green Beacon

Yeah, it's a cryptic title for a thread, until you read the news story. It's about the New Horizons Pluto probe which is coated in gold-colored foil (hence the "gold machine"):

Quote:
New Horizon Tones Green On All Beacons As Long Cruise To Pluto Continues
by Alan Stern
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 30, 2008

As you read these words, the New Horizons spacecraft remains in a long period of almost continuous hibernation that we entered in February 21st that which will stretch until September 2nd. During this time the spacecraft will fly from 9 to almost 11 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is, covering over 300 million more kilometers!

And with the exception of a single, two-week high activity period that begins on May 20th, the spacecraft is running on its own, and doing little besides checking into report status each Monday and to deliver a brief telemetry report most Thursdays. These contacts have shown that things are going well: all of the weekly status reports (technically called "beacon tones") have been green, and all of the telemetry passes have shown that the spacecraft is performing well.

Although our spacecraft has been hibernating, our ground and science teams have not been quiescent at all.

Planning for the Pluto encounter is in full swing now, with the goal of completing all of the near encounter sequence design and testing within about a year, so that we can conduct a full scale rehearsal on New Horizons in mid-2009. In fact, just this week we completed a formal review called the Encounter Requirements Review.

This review's purpose was to verify that, before we begin designing the detailed encounter sequences, we have in hand a fully complete list of every scientific and navigation activity that we plan to conduct during the encounter.
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