NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft Briefly Reconnects, Retaining Hope Alive for the Historic Mission

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The Voyager 1 spacecraft despatched a brand new sign that accommodates priceless knowledge, which can save the growing older probe. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are presently on the lookout for discrepancies within the message to be able to discover out why the spacecraft—the farthest piece of human know-how from Earth—has been talking gibberish for the previous few months.

On March 3, the crew behind the Voyager 1 mission acquired a promising sign from the spacecraft’s flight knowledge system (FDS). Though it wasn’t within the format often utilized by Voyager 1 when the spacecraft is working usually, it was nonetheless totally different than the unreadable knowledge stream that the mission has been transmitting because it developed an odd glitch in November 2023.

The mission crew was initially confused by the brand new message, however an engineer at NASA’s Deep Area Community, radio antennas that the area company makes use of to speak with its deep area missions, decoded the sign and located that it accommodates a readout of all the FDS reminiscence, NASA wrote in a weblog replace.

“The FDS reminiscence consists of its code, or directions for what to do, in addition to variables, or values used within the code that may change based mostly on instructions or the spacecraft’s standing,” the area company stated.

Voyager 1 transmitted this knowledge in response to the crew sending a “poke” to the spacecraft’s knowledge system on March 1, or a command that lightly prompts FDS “to strive totally different sequences in its software program package deal in case the problem might be resolved by going round a corrupted part,” in response to NASA.

FDS collects knowledge from Voyager’s science devices, in addition to engineering knowledge concerning the well being of the spacecraft, and combines them right into a single package deal that’s transmitted to Earth via one of many probe’s subsystems, the telemetry modulation unit (TMU), in binary code.

The Voyager 1 crew suspects that the continuing anomaly could have one thing to do with FDS and TMU having hassle speaking with each other. In consequence, TMU has been sending knowledge to mission management in a repeating sample of ones and zeroes.

For months, issues have been trying bleak for the Voyager 1 mission, which has been cruising via the cosmos for greater than 46 years. With the brand new sign, nonetheless, the crew could possibly pinpoint the precise supply of the glitch by evaluating this reminiscence readout with a earlier one to search for discrepancies within the code.

Voyager 1 launched in 1977, lower than a month after its twin probe, Voyager 2, started its personal journey to area. The craft ventured into interstellar area in August 2012, turning into the primary spacecraft to depart the heliosphere.

Voyager 1 is presently 15.14 billion miles away (24.4 billion kilometers), flying at a velocity of 38,000 miles per hour (61,155 kilometers per hour). Due to this huge distance, it takes round two days to ship a message and obtain a reply from the spacecraft. So, NASA is asking us to be affected person as it really works to resolve the problem with its iconic mission.

“The crew is analyzing the readout,” the area company wrote. “Utilizing that data to plan a possible resolution and try and put it into motion will take time.”

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