"was sent at less than 2Kbps."
Comcast for the cosmos? (OK, cheap shot at Comcast, but you know they deserved it.)
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft – right now 3.5 billion miles (5.6 billion kilometres) from Earth – has been powered down by boffins as it heads out to the icy wastes of the Kuiper Belt. The probe, which was launched in 2006 and gave humanity its first close-up images of Pluto in July 2015, was sent shutdown commands on Friday …
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The download speed at this distance is around 0.9Kbps at best. I don't know the upload speeds for the commands and software. Currently the lag time is around 5 hours one way or 10 hours both way. Voyager is around 15 hours out one way (I think).
I did find this information on New Horizon communications.
Currently an RTG.
By Dec (hopefully) NASA will be well into its Kilopower project. The first US designed space rated nuclear reactor since 1965. This will be be a complete 1Kw (except for the radiator design) but the design can scale to 10Kw. Enough to power a substantial ion thruster.
Amazingly the current RTG's cost about $240m a pop for <500W BOL power. Kilopower is expected to be 40% cheaper and the US has substantial stockpiles of its fuel already, unlike the Pu240, which is proving to be an expensive PITA to make.
Kilopower is the reactor formerly know as KRUSTY (KilopweR Using STirling technologY) and follows up on the original DUFF PoC a few years ago.
Sot he next generation of outer planet probes might get there faster and report their results faster as well.
Now I'll be going down to Mo's later to raise an arm for that.
unlike the Pu240, which is proving to be an expensive PITA to make.
What's Pu240 used for, the Kilopower project?
RTGs are becoming more viable again. NASA has restarted Pu238 production for RTGs and should be in the 1.5kg/year range now.
That should indeed have read
""unlike the Pu238, which is proving to be an expensive PITA to make.""
Since the US insists that it be made by irradiating Neptunium to begin with (which has to be made first) yes I'd say it is a PITA.
The fuel for Kilopower is being contributed by the DoE for free as it's basically excess nuclear weapon cores, of which they have an abundance.
Roughly an RTG is about $240 each while Kilopower reactors are expected to be 30-60% cheaper, as well as being more powerful (at least double), just as reliable (heat pipe cooling to Stirling engines, which have a lot of development history) and can be set be set at idle power when in transit if they are not providing power for an ion thruster.
I'd guess so.
Obviously as they've become more mainstream they've had to adopt something a bit more formal but the results they have achieved for the funds involved (DUFF was reported on El Reg in 2014 at around $64m. Peanuts by NASA's usual estimates for nuclear projects) have been astonishing.
I think the Kilopower demo is looking at a few $100m. This contrasts with the current line item for nuclear on the NASA Mars DRA 5 (the Design Reference) at $13Bn.
It's at times like this when my heart swells with pride at what the human race can active when we try.
Then in the same moment I feel shame at the general lack of foresight amongst a vast swathe of us. The constant interference from politicians, bean-counters, flat-earthers, climate-change-deniers, the "Trumps," religious nuts, etc, makes me concerned for our future survival as a species.
I am old enough to have watched the Apollo moon landings televised live. I remember that despite the horror of the times, there was great hope for a bright future, if not amongst the stars, at least the planets.
New Horizons (and others) missions help keep my hope alive. I just hope I live long enough to see a human put a footprint on Mars.
Well done the New Horizons Team!! Have lots of beers on me!!
I am forever grateful to you.
That I can start this off with that line makes no sense, I mean, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, how can it have been 45 years......
I watched 11, 15 and some of 17.
I read every bit I could lay my hands on about Voyagers, and Mariners. (anyone remember Omni?)
I watched *every* televised shuttle launch. (burned vacation days when I needed to).
I probably know enough about the ISS to find my way around it if by some strange miracle I ever find myself there.
That we have Voyagers still functioning out there, That we have broken, stranded robots on Mars still talking to Nasa, That we have images of the surface of Pluto (sadly missing the frozen space suit waving at the sun) utterly astonishes me. That Nasa, ESA, ArianeSpace, SpaceX, Blue Horizon, et al are still challenging the gravity well in (sometimes) new and radical ways makes me jealous and reminds me that there is still more any of us could do.
Considering some of the crap hardware I've run into in my work life, I am blown away that they can shut this sucker down and not be utterly terrified that they'll never hear from it again.
Beers all round for the Gals and Guys that do this stuff that makes me jealous.