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NASA Engineers Puzzled by Mysterious Indicators From Voyager 1

  • NASA’s Voyager 1 is sending knowledge that does not match the spacecraft’s actions, the area company stated.
  • The veteran spacecraft has been exploring our photo voltaic system and interstellar area since 1977.
  • It is now 14.5 billion miles away from Earth, making it probably the most distant human-made object.

NASA’s Voyager 1 continues its journey past our photo voltaic system, 45 years after it was launched. But now, the veteran spacecraft is sending again unusual knowledge, puzzling its engineers. 

While it’s nonetheless working correctly, NASA introduced on Wednesday that readouts from the probe’s perspective articulation and management system — AACS for brief — do not appear to match with the spacecraft’s actions and orientation, suggesting the craft is confused about its location in area. The AACS is crucial for Voyager to ship NASA knowledge about its surrounding interstellar surroundings because it retains the craft’s antenna pointing proper at our planet.

“A mystery like this is sort of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission,” Suzanne Dodd, venture supervisor for Voyager 1 and a pair of at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, stated in a assertion. “The spacecraft are both almost 45 years old, which is far beyond what the mission planners anticipated.” NASA stated Voyager 1’s twin, the Voyager 2 probe, is behaving usually.

Launched in 1977 to discover the outer planets in our photo voltaic system, Voyager 1 has remained operational gone expectations and continues to ship details about its journeys again to Earth. The trailblazing craft left our photo voltaic system and entered interstellar area in 2012. It is now 14.5 billion miles away from Earth, making it probably the most distant human-made object.

This archival photo shows an engineer working on the construction of a large, dish-shaped Voyager high-gain antenna. The picture was taken on July 9, 1976.

An engineer engaged on the development of a big, dish-shaped Voyager high-gain antenna, on July 9, 1976.

NASA/JPL-Caltech


From what NASA engineers can inform, Voyager 1’s AACS is sending randomly generated knowledge that doesn’t presently “reflect what’s actually happening onboard,” per the announcement. But even when system knowledge suggests in any other case, the spacecraft’s antenna appears to be correctly aligned — it’s receiving and executing instructions from NASA and sending knowledge again to Earth. So far, the system subject hasn’t triggered the growing older spacecraft to enter “safe mode,” throughout which it solely carries out important operations.

“Until the nature of the issue is better understood, the team cannot anticipate whether this might affect how long the spacecraft can collect and transmit science data,” in line with a NASA press launch.

Dodd and her workforce hope to determine what’s prompting the robotic emissary from Earth to ship junky knowledge. “There are some big challenges for the engineering team,” Dodd stated. A serious one: It takes gentle 20 hours and 33 minutes to get to Voyager’s present interstellar location, so a round-trip message between the area company and Voyager takes two days.

“But I think if there’s a way to solve this issue with the AACS, our team will find it,” Dodd added. 



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