NASA said its New Horizons probe suffered a temporary communication breakdown on Saturday, 10 days before it’s scheduled to fly past Pluto, and the mission team is working to restore normal operations.
In a mission update, NASA said the team lost contact with the piano-sized probe at 1:54 p.m. ET, when it had less than 7.5 million miles left in its 3 billion-mile journey to the dwarf planet. The spacecraft’s autopilot system switched control from its primary to its backup computer and restored communications at 3:15 p.m., NASA said.
The autopilot placed the system into protective safe mode, and the mission team is “now working to return New Horizons to its original flight plan,” NASA said. The spacecraft is healthy and sending telemetry back, NASA said. No course corrections are required at this point — which suggests the probe is still on track to fly past Pluto and its moons on July 14.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Alan Boyle