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Glitch Briefly Shuts Down NASA's Pluto-Bound New Horizons Probe

(CBS SF) -- NASA's New Horizon remains on track for it's historic flyby of Pluto next week after recovering from a subtle timing glitch that knocked the probe out of contact with Earth on Saturday.

Engineers believe the spacecraft should be able to resume normal operations Tuesday  with no major impact on the mission's science objectives, NASA reported Sunday

NASA's New Horizons probe, nine-and-a-half years outbound from Earth, went into protective safe mode Saturday afternoon after experiencing an on-board anomaly, the space agency reported.

RELATED: Pluto's Tiniest Moons Captured For First Time Ever

The spacecraft's autopilot, as programmed, switched over to a redundant flight computer and began transmitting telemetry to Earth to help engineers troubleshoot the problem. The spacecraft was out of contact with Earth for one hour and 19 minutes.

An anomaly team was assembled to analyze the glitch but given the probe's enormous distance -- it takes radio signals nine hours to make a round trip -- it likely will take "one to several days" to restore normal operations.

ALSO READ: Top 5 Explanations For Those Bizarre Bright Spots On Planet Ceres

"In terms of science, it won't change an A-plus even into an A," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder.

Pluto in a Minute: The Other Red Planet by NASA New Horizons on YouTube


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