Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pluto Day!!!!! Part 1 (there's SO much to share)

By now  you *might* have heard about us on the news, seen us in the paper, on the interwebs, inundating facebook, twitter, and well everywhere. Perhaps someone out there is still using morse code to send the news.

"New Horizons Probe arrives at Pluto"
"-. . .-- / .... --- .-. .. --.. --- -. ... / .--. .-. --- -... . / .- .-. .-. .. ...- . ... / .- - / .--. .-.. ..- - ---"

(who knew the internet had a morse code translator?

I'd like to step you through my day on July 14th. It was absolutely amazing. And long. And something I will never forget.

I got here to APL at 5:45am so that I could make it to the science team meeting. I was in the room when the now famous "Pluto Heart" picture was revealed and to say there was a bit of excitement was an understatement. And after the first 'wow' there was discussion and gesturing and pointing and discoveries as they all took in what no one had ever seen before.

You can see a bunch of the scientist's pictures here and it's hard not to feel what they are feeling. To have worked so many years on this project. To have seen a world for the very first time. To know that they have years ahead of them to analyze the data. And to know that more is coming! Amazing.

After that fun we headed over to the K-center. A ton of people had shown up to celebrate the countdown to the actual Pluto closest approach (4.5 light time hours away). Since we didn't have telemetry (you know, because the spacecraft was a little busy) all of the Ops Team was able to join in the celebration.

Picture from We are hiding way in the back.
We left the stuffed animals in charge.
Then it was time to head back to the MOC because we had uplink tracks most of the day. Somewhere in between those and the super fun events to come that evening, I was contacted by the local paper for my county. I gave an interview and they sent a photographer down to take my picture out by the dish here at APL. Little did I know I would be the whole front page the next day. Here's a link if you care:

It was getting into the early evening and families and friends were starting to gather at the K-Center. Everyone was gathering to wait for the first telemetry back just before 9pm from the spacecraft to tell us that it survived the encounter and was holding all of the data we were so desperate for. I headed over to meet Matt and the kids to make sure they got their badges and such. The kids were proud to be wearing their Mission Operations t-shirts!

to be continued....................