- Mission spacecraft ‘New Horizons’ sent to Pluto in 2006
- Supposed to supply first ever images of the dwarf planet
- Technical difficulties with the spacecraft this weekend had NASA freaking
- Everything seems to be ok…for now
- Mission is scheduled to be complete July 14th, 2015
It was a scary situation for both NASA scientists as well as outer space enthusiasts when the mission spacecraft ‘New Horizons’ experienced technical issues on July 4th, NASA reported.
This space mission is particularly important because it’s supposed to give scientists and the general public images of Pluto. It is an historic mission that cost over $728 million and has been traveling since 2006, according to the Washington Post.
Yes, some of us 20somethings were still in junior high when this spacecraft was launched.
It’s a scary thought that a tiny glitch can almost destroy a space mission, especially when there is so much planning and money involved. Even worse, it’s the feeling of helplessness since most of these spacecraft missions are controlled through the computer, and there is no one on board to solve any issues immediately.
How important is this mission? As mentioned before, this mission is very historic, since we will get to see images of Pluto for the first time and discover some of the secrets it holds, according to a NASA spokesperson.
This mission is scheduled to be completed exactly one week from now (July 14th is the expected date if all goes as planned now). Being over 9 years into a mission and having it stop days before it’s supposed to be completed would have been absolutely devastating.
So how far has this spacecraft traveled? If you guessed 3 billion miles, you’re basically 100% correct. To put it into perspective, 3 billion miles is the equivalent of traveling around the Earth 120,477 times, or flying roundtrip from NYC to LA 600,000 times. Yeah, it’s that far away. And let’s not forget that it takes about 248 years for it to orbit the sun according to space.com.
On another note, Pluto may have been demoted and classified as a dwarf planet several years ago (rude and discriminatory), but it still contains many interesting secrets that will surely be eye openers in the coming weeks when we finally get a glimpse of what was once just an artistic rendering in our school textbooks.