Voyager 1 – one of two space probes launched by NASA in 1977 to study Jupiter, Saturn and their moons – sending confusing data back to Earth, according to space agency. The spacecraft’s control system regularly sends telemetry data to NASA indicating its location. But the engineering team at Voyager 1 was recently baffled by readings from the spacecraft containing mixed or inaccurate data. Even more baffling, the 45-year-old probe is otherwise in good shape – its signal is still strong and the glitch didn’t trigger safe mode. Voyager 2 (Voyager 1’s Sister investigationIt looks totally fine.
“A puzzle like this is a bit like the course at this point in the Voyager mission,” said Susan Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The spacecraft is about 45 years old, which is far beyond what mission planners expected. We are also in interstellar space – a highly radioactive environment where no spacecraft has flown before. So there are some big challenges for the engineering team.”
Communicating with Voyager 1 is easier said than done. Both probes are now further away from Earth than Pluto Voyager 1 is a file estimated 14.5 billion miles from our planet. It takes approximately two days to receive a response from the spacecraft after sending a message, according to NASA.
Dodd said NASA may be able to fix the problem through software changes or one of the spacecraft’s redundant hardware systems. If this is not the case, the agency will have to “adapt” to this defect.
Either way, NASA will lose contact With both drones in the next few years when they ran out of power supplies. Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 run on plutonium-238, which decays over time. Scientists Appreciation that by 2025, none of the probes will have enough plutonium-238 to still function properly. There is a limited supply of plutonium remaining on Earth, and producing it is time-consuming and challenging. For many years, Russia supplied NASA with plutonium-238, even then I cut This agreement in 2015. Fortunately for NASA, the US Department of Energy re Domestic plutonium production 238 in Oak Ridge Laboratorymaking a number of current and future NASA missions possible—including NASA perseverance rover.
All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independently of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”