Spending 45 years traversing the photo voltaic system actually does a quantity on a spacecraft.
NASA’s Voyager 1 mission launched in 1977, handed into what scientists name interstellar area in 2012 and simply saved going — the spacecraft is now 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion kilometers) away from Earth. And whereas Voyager 1 continues to be working correctly, scientists on the mission not too long ago observed that it appeared confused about its location in area with out going into secure mode or in any other case sounding an alarm.
“A thriller like that is type of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission,” Suzanne Dodd, challenge supervisor for Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, mentioned in a assertion.
“The spacecraft are each nearly 45 years previous, which is much past what the mission planners anticipated,” Dodd added. “We’re additionally in interstellar area — a high-radiation atmosphere that no spacecraft have flown in earlier than.”
The glitch has to do with Voyager 1’s perspective articulation and management system, or AACS, which retains the spacecraft and its antenna within the correct orientation. And the AACS appears to be working simply effective, for the reason that spacecraft is receiving instructions, appearing on them and sending science knowledge again to Earth with the identical sign energy as ordinary. However, the AACS is sending the spacecraft’s handlers junk telemetry knowledge.
The NASA assertion doesn’t specify when the difficulty started or how lengthy it has lasted.
The company says that Voyager personnel will proceed to research the difficulty and try and both repair or adapt to it. That is a sluggish course of, since a sign from Earth at present takes 20 hours and 33 minutes to succeed in Voyager 1; receiving the spacecraft’s response carries the identical delay.
The dual Voyager 2 probe, additionally launched in 1977, is behaving usually, NASA mentioned. The ability the dual spacecraft can produce is at all times falling, and mission group members have turned some parts off to avoid wasting juice — measures they hope will maintain the probes working by way of not less than 2025.
“There are some large challenges for the engineering group,” Dodd mentioned. “However I feel if there is a technique to remedy this concern with the AACS, our group will discover it.”