A trip to the planets


Space probes help us to understand the planets. We can send cameras and sensors into space to take close-up pictures of asteroids, comets and other heavenly bodies (this is a link to the MacMillan Space Centre, but the picture of Max has been removed!). The one above is designed to go to the outer planets. If a spacecraft was as far away as Jupiter, the Sun and Earth would always appear close together. This means that as long as we point the radio antenna to Earth, the solar panels will receive sunlight to power the instruments if the all point in the same direction. If the computer resets, it will start by finding the Sun, and then it knows the Earth must be in the same direction to re-establish communication with the control centre.

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