New Horizons is awake again

It’s a big week for NASA, with the Cassini spacecraft set to end its mission this Friday. But although one milestone mission is ending, another remains on its way to making history.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is awake — temporarily — for a short burst of activity while on its way to its post-Pluto target in the Kuiper Belt, an object known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft was put into hibernation mode April 7 to save power on its long journey, which is not yet complete. Now that it’s awake, the mission team will begin performing instrument checks and data collection for the next three months, as well as an additional flight path correction, before the spacecraft is returned to hibernation until it’s ready to encounter MU69 in 2019.

There are several reasons to place a spacecraft in hibernation: it reduces the operating cost of the mission and reduces the amount of wear and…

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