Sunday, December 7, 2014

Russell Watson's Wake-Up Song for Pluto-Bound New Horizons (and a Minor Clarification)

As I noted in my update and clarification to this entry, the little New Horizons probe was successfully brought out of its electronic hibernation by mission control with the first signal received around 9:30PM EST followed by full confirmation at 9:53PM EST yesterday, December 6, 2014.

NASA New Horizons tweet announcing confirmation that New Horizons was awake.


To mark the occasion, NASA New Horizons team asked English tenor Russell Watson to record a special rendition of "Faith of the Heart" as a wakeup song for the probe. (Watson has previously done this song as a NASA wake-up call to astronauts in Earth orbit.) The story with embedded YouTube clip is here. I've embedded that clip in this entry (see above).

I actually like is introductory words quite a bit. Of New Horizons' journey to Pluto and the farthest reaches of the Solar System, he said:

"It will cold and dark at Pluto. But you won't be alone. You carry the dreams of explorers everywhere. I have faith that you'll inspire us with views of a new world like we've never seen before while blazing the path for NASA and their missions to follow you through the Solar System and beyond. New Horizons, your adventure at Pluto awaits. Safe travels. God bless."

About the clarification, New Horizons Mission Control actually sent the wake-up instructions in August but they were not to be executed until December 6th -- and indeed they were. (Prior to that, the probe was sending weekly "green beacon" blips to let mission control know it wasn't dead, just asleep.)

It took the return signal from the probe 4 hours and 26 minutes to travel the roughly 3 billion miles to reach Earth.



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