NASA's Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
Sometimes data are lost during the transfer from the New Horizons spacecraft to the Mission Operations Center at APL (e.g., bad weather at one of the DSN sites can sometimes cause data dropouts). When these dropouts occur, the subsequent processing of the images is affected and some of the missing pixels are assigned incorrect intensity values. Furthermore, these incorrect intensity values can adversely affect the automatic scaling used to produce these figures, with most of the field appearing to be “white” and the missing pixels set to “black”. If an image "corrupted" in this way is considered "critical", the Mission Operations Center may request a re-transmission of the data from the spacecraft. But if the loss of the image doesn't significantly impact ongoing operations or science analysis, we will not try to re-transmit the image from the spacecraft.