Signals from the New Horizons spacecraft has reached Earth confirming that it has survived its date with Pluto. The radio signals, sent out at the speed of light, were received in four and a half hours. This means New Horizons has captured lots of data during its flyby and will start sending it home now.
The flyby actually took place at 7:49 a.m. ET Tuesday, with New Horizons coming within 7,750 miles of Pluto’s surface. But the spacecraft was programmed to make observations during its approach and couldn’t turn its antenna to call back home until many hours later.
The first images and data taken during the flyby are expected to reach us Wednesday, and it’ll continue coming for the next sixteen months.
To quote Alice Bowman, the mission operations manager, “We have a healthy spacecraft, we have recorded data of the Pluto system, and we’re outbound from Pluto.”