Washington: A new study has revealed that NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will come out of hibernation for the last time on Dec. 6 for a six-month encounter with Pluto that begins in January.
Alice Bowman , New Horizons mission operations manager, said that New Horizons is healthy and cruising quietly through deep space, nearly three billion miles from home, but its rest is nearly over.
Bowman added that it's time for New Horizons to wake up, get to work, and start making history.
Since launching in January 2006, New Horizons has spent 1,873 days in hibernation, about two-thirds of its flight time, spread over 18 separate hibernation periods from mid-2007 to late 2014 that ranged from 36 days to 202 days long.
In hibernation mode much of the spacecraft is unpowered, the onboard flight computer monitors system health and broadcasts a weekly beacon-status tone back to Earth.
On average, operators woke New Horizons just over twice each year to check out critical systems, calibrate instruments, gather science data, rehearse Pluto-encounter activities and perform course corrections when necessary.
New Horizons team members will give an overview of pre-Pluto preparations, as well as the science plans for the Pluto encounter, Nov. 13, at the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting in Tucson, Ariz.