Somewhere (and I can’t remember where) I read quite an amazing thing about just how feeble the signal from New Horizons will be, and therefore it will take many months just to transmit all the data it collects…
…how feeble the signal from New Horizons will be, and therefore it will take many months just to transmit all the data it collects
Yes, this is true. New Horizons can transmit, at most, 1 kilobit (125 bytes) per second. As each image is about 2.5Mb, it takes 42 minutes to return one image to Earth.
You can read some stuff on the radio downlink here.
To quote directly:
The downlink system will guarantee that the entire Pluto data set (estimated at 5 Gbits after compression) in 172 days with one 8-hour pass per day using DSN 70-m antennas. If there is sufficient power, such that both TWTAs can be used, the time to downlink the data set can be reduced to less than 88 days.
Yep, it’s going to take quite a while to get all the data, even assuming that they can use both amplifiers to return the signal.
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