A NASA probe sent back mystifying images of the surface of dwarf planet pluto – then the signal cut out.
The probe sent back a strange image of a ‘dotted line’ on the surface of the planet, which scientists admit is a ‘real puzzle’.
The craft’s main computer malfunctioned hours later, and scientists are now working to revive the craft.
The probe is powered by a Star Trek-style ion drive – and has ‘slept’ for nine years on its journey to Pluto.
Over the next few months, New Horizons is set to unlock the secrets of Pluto, a distant, icy world which has never been seen except as a distant dot in our telescopes.
‘It’s a real puzzle – we don’t know what the spots are, and we can’t wait to find out,’ said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern.
Also puzzling is the longstanding and dramatic difference in the colors and appearance of Pluto compared to its darker and grayer moon Charon.’
On Saturday, 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, NASA said in a status report.
The work is complicated by the 4-1/2 hours it takes to send a set of signals to the spacecraft, which is nearly 3 billion miles from Earth.
Read more: metro.co.uk
More from Astronomy
Some of the most exciting new discoveries in space come from far, far away, thanks to telescopes capable of detecting …
Humans have been on Earth for hundreds of thousands of years. So far so good, right? Well, according to famed physicist …
Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to team who found gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of spacetime
The team who discovered gravitational waves - ripples in space and time - have been awarded the Nobel Prize of Physics. The waves …
Life may have gained a foothold on Earth more than 4bn years ago, according to researchers who believe that fragments …
Uranus and Neptune have never got much attention from us – we’ve only passed each once and never hung around. …