(ORDO NEWS) — The Voyager 1 space probe was launched from Earth in September 1977 and is now about 23.5 billion kilometers (or 14.6 billion miles) from home. But despite this mind-boggling distance, NASA scientists have just completed repairs to the ship.
Since May, Voyager 1 has been sending back garbled information from its Articulation and Attitude Control System (AACS), which is the part of the probe that ensures its antenna is pointed at Earth.
Although the rest of the probe continued to behave normally, the information it sent back about its health and activities made no sense. . By switching the way data is sent from Voyager 1, the problem has now been fixed.
“We’re excited to have telemetry back,” says Suzanne Dodd, NASA’s Voyager Project Manager. Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
Scientists were able to figure out that the spacecraft began transmitting data through the onboard computer, which, as you know, stopped working many years ago. The NASA team ordered Voyager 1 to switch back to the correct computer for communications.
What we don’t yet know is why Voyager 1 decided to start switching the way it sends data back to its home planet. The most likely explanation is an erroneous command generated somewhere else in the probe’s electronic systems.
This, in turn, suggests another problem somewhere else, otherwise the computer switchover would never have happened. However, the Voyager 1 team is confident that the long-term health of the spacecraft is not in jeopardy.
“We’re going to do a full AACS memory read and look at everything he did,” Dodd says. “This will help us first try to diagnose the issue that caused the telemetry issues.”
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 (which actually launched a month earlier than its twin) have passed 45 years that they are both already past the point known as the heliopause, when the solar winds are no longer felt and space is officially considered interstellar.
Despite Voyager 1 shutting down some of its systems and losing some functionality in the meantime, and Voyager 2 also in need of troubleshooting, both probes continue to send reports back to Earth, although the message may take about two days to complete. to cover the required distance.
The spacecraft sent images from nearby Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, and in recent years have continued to record and analyze the strange and wonderful events they experience in space.
Voyager 1 hasn’t run its “safe mode” routine, which suggests it’s not detecting anything faulty, AND the signal from the spacecraft hasn’t weakened. If everything is in order, he can continue to report for many years.
“We are cautiously optimistic, but we have yet to do more research,” says Dodd.
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