Maryland, US: From almost five billion kilometres, where radio signals, even travelling at light speed, need 4.5 hours to reach home, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has sent a blurry picture of a celestial body.
For an untrained eye, it looks like an image of a 'wrinkly' human brain – as described by Miriam Kramer of Mashable - but the picture is of Pluto, the dwarf planet on the edge of the solar system. New Horizons is on the last leg of its nine-year journey to dwarf planet Pluto and is scheduled to conduct science on the fly as it passes within 7,800 miles (12,500 km) of Pluto on July 14.
New Horizons spent most of its journey to Pluto in hibernation. It was revived in January to begin collecting navigation and science data.
Last week, an unknown glitch caused New Horizons to switch to a backup computer, which triggered an 81-minute break in radio communications with mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
Like NASA`s early Mariner, Pioneer and Voyager missions that first explored the solar system, New Horizons is designed to conduct science on the fly as it passes within 7,800 miles (12,500 km) of Pluto on July 14.
“Now - with Pluto in our sights - we are on the verge of returning to normal operations and going for the gold,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science.