PHEW

NASA Nearly Lost Pluto Probe

NASA’s New Horizons probe destined to visit Pluto vanished from the control center’s radar last week. “OUT OF LOCK” displayed on screens on July 4 at John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. No one knew what had happened, The Washington Post reports. Luckily, after some quick thinking—and a nine-hour communication delay both ways—the team of researchers discovered that the overloaded computer, which has been on the mission for 9-and-a-half years, had powered itself down, switched to a backup computer, and began forcing its own return to Earth. New Horizons had abandoned its projected path to Pluto. The team rebooted the main computer system as quickly as possible and put the probe back on track—as the world patiently waited for never-before-seen photos of the dwarf planet.