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PLUTO: T-20 Days and Counting

24 Jun 2015, 03:37 UTC
PLUTO: T-20 Days and Counting
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Australia’s key role in NASA’s New Horizons mission
Historic Encounter: Artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft flying past Pluto and Charon. Image: NASA
After a voyage of 3,443 days and travelling nearly 5 billion kilometres from home, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is now just 20 days away from its historic encounter with the distant world of Pluto.
The science team located at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas have been dreaming of this moment since plans for the mission were first hatched back in 1989.
Key to the success of this mission are the powerful, yet ultra-sensitive communication dishes at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex – a part of the Deep Space Network (DSN) – one of three NASA tracking stations located in Australia, Spain and USA.
Listening for Whispers: Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.
In Australia, our tracking station is managed on NASA’s behalf by the CSIRO. Operated by an all Australian team of engineers, technicians and spacecraft communication experts, the station is located at Tidbinbilla just outside of Canberra.
Just like their counterparts at APL, SwRI, NASA and the ...

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