back to article New Horizons probe awakens to receive software upgrade

The New Horizons probe has successfully ended its five-month hibernation and resumed chats with its mission controllers. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab received the “I'm okay” message via NASA's Deep Space Network station in Madrid. Once the probe's back in “Active” state, it's got a busy schedule before a December 9 …

  1. G2


    hopefully they learned from the printer/IoT industry not to perform remote firmware upgrades without a full reboot before attempting anything and then checking the signature of the received file.

    replacing a bricked system board for this is not as easy as for a printer.

    1. defiler

      Re: RFU

      Totally this ^^^

      I remember The Fear when flashing the firmware on Adaptec 2940UW cards. I also remember the panic when one failed, but then I hacked that machine to boot off something else and bring up the SCSI later.

      I imagine that's not really an option in this case. :-/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RFU

        Thank you for the SCSI card flashback... so glad we don't have to do this anymore.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: RFU

          "Thank you for the SCSI card flashback... so glad we don't have to do this anymore."

          Shirley you jest.

          Pretty much all RAID controllers still receive multiple FW updates in their lifetime. Also several backplanes, and even plain SAS cards get them. Not to mention the (tape) drives connected to them...

          The update procedures have become more robust and easier, they can usually be done online and you can schedule the required boot for a later date. I can't remember bricking anything in the last 10 years or so.

          1. defiler

            Re: RFU

            "The update procedures have become more robust"

            They tend to come with dual memory banks for the firmware these days, so if it borks it can fail back to the other. Not so much in the old days, and I wouldn't like to be on that with New Horizons. Every byte is payload.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Celestial distances are a bugger

    Currently 5.8 billion kilometres from Earth, New Horizons will cover another 700,000 kilometres to reach MU69 on January 1, 2019.

    You are missing a zero or three there. Leaving aside the question of the reference system this number is in, an object moving at just 1 km/s (New Horisons is moving about 10 times faster than that relative to the Sun at the moment) will cover 3e7 (30,000,000) kilometers in one year. So 700,000,000 kilometers I might believe. 700,000 I won't - this is just twice the Moon-Earth distance.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    This is now 30 AU from Earth, about 4.46 million Km from Earth.

    Interestingly because it got there a lot faster than the Voyagers its also got a much more powerful computer.

    Let's hope memory and processor are in as good a shape for its next encounter.

    1. annodomini2

      Re: Astonishing.


  4. The Original Steve


    Let's hope they remember the iLO IP and credentials... Just in case!

  5. 0laf


    I doff my hat sirs.

    This is awesome science at unimaginable distances.

    Top boffinry

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Amazed at the levels of science here. To not only sleep and recover a probe that is millions of miles away but also have it know how to communicate back to base with electronics surviving such a hostile environment.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first
      Thumb Up

      Re: Science

      Amen to that. Sometimes the deep space probes seem to be the last noble venture of our species.

  7. willi0000000

    what will they do if they find out the duck is made of wood?

    1. HausWolf

      Build a bridge out of her.

    2. DropBear

      Hmmm. You reckon it might be a Trojan duck...?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What will they do if they find out the duck is made of wood?

      Of course the duck is made of wood:...

      BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn?

      VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of wood?

      BEDEVERE: Good!

      CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah.

      BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?

      VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.

      BEDEVERE: Aah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?

      VILLAGER #2: Oh, yeah.

      BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?

      VILLAGER #1: No, no.

      VILLAGER #2: It floats! It floats!

      VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!

      CROWD: The pond!

      BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?

      VILLAGER #1: Bread!

      VILLAGER #2: Apples!

      VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!

      VILLAGER #1: Cider!

      VILLAGER #2: Uhhh, gravy!

      VILLAGER #1: Cherries!

      VILLAGER #2: Mud!

      VILLAGER #3: Churches -- churches!

      VILLAGER #2: Lead -- lead!

      ARTHUR: A duck.

      CROWD: Oooh.

      BEDEVERE: Exactly! So, logically...

      VILLAGER #1: If... she... weighs the same as a duck.. she's made of wood.

      I rest my case.

  8. oen_br

    "Astroboffins believe MU 69 is duck-shaped, perhaps because it is two rocks in close proximity."

    Of course, we need two to do a 69.

  9. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    The probe is running New Horizons Home Edition, so it cannot defer the update...

  10. handleoclast

    I remember

    I remember twiddling network interfaces on a remote server which didn't have ILO.

    I remember restarting networking.

    I remember shitting myself.

    I remember phoning the data centre in a panic.

    I remember getting a bollocking.

    I don't think I'd want to be in charge of upgrading software on New Horizons. They don't make underpants big enough.

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