Spacecraft Set to Rendezvous With Pluto Briefly Goes Silent

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which is hurtling toward a historic rendezvous with Pluto in just 10 days, briefly lost contact with Earth around 2 p.m. U.S. Eastern time today. For about 80 minutes, teams on the ground couldn’t reach the spacecraft, which is currently 11 million kilometers from the frosted dwarf planet and its complex system of moons. (In fact, New Horizons is so far away that it takes messages traveling at the speed of light 4.5 hours to get there.)

It’s not clear exactly what happened yet, but an on-board anomaly sent New Horizons into safe mode. Though it's not the first time the spacecraft has slipped into safe ...

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