July 21, 2024

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NASA Voyager 1 comes back to life

NASA Voyager 1 comes back to life

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft overcame a technical setback from November 2023, and successfully resumed normal operations and data transmission by May 2024. All four of its science instruments are back active, studying space beyond our solar system. Source: California Institute of Technology/NASA-JPL

After the technical issues were resolved, Voyager 1 returned to normal operations, with all instruments fully operational and continuing to study interstellar space.

Maintenance is ongoing to verify data Accuracy and system stability. Voyager 1, along with Voyager 2, is still an important part of space NASADeep space exploration.

Troubleshooting Voyager 1 technical issues

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is conducting normal science operations for the first time after a technical issue that arose in November 2023.

NASA Voyager 2 space probe

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Restoration of scientific instruments

The mission team partially solved the problem in April when they pushed the spacecraft to begin returning engineering data, which includes information about the spacecraft’s health and condition. On May 19, the team carried out the second step of the repair process and sent a command to the spacecraft to begin returning science data. Two of the four scientific instruments returned to normal operating positions immediately. Two other instruments required some additional work, but now, all four instruments are returning usable scientific data.

Voyager missions continue

Study the four tools plasma Waves, magnetic fields and particles. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are the only spacecraft to have directly sampled interstellar space, the region outside the heliosphere — the protective bubble of magnetic fields and solar wind created by the Sun.

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Ongoing maintenance and milestones

While Voyager 1 returns to scientific research, a little additional work is needed to remove traces of the problem. Among other tasks, engineers will resynchronize the timekeeping software in the spacecraft’s three on-board computers so they can execute commands in a timely manner. The team will also perform maintenance on the digital recorder, which records some of the data for the plasma wave instrument that is sent back to Earth twice a year. (Most of Voyager’s science data is transmitted directly to Earth and is not recorded.)

Voyager 1 is more than 15 billion miles (24 billion km) from Earth, and Voyager 2 is more than 12 billion miles (20 billion km) from the planet. The Probes will celebrate 47 years of operations later this year. It is NASA’s longest and most distant spacecraft. Both spacecraft have flown past Jupiter And SaturnWhile Voyager 2 also flew Uranus And Neptune.

The Voyager missions, consisting of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, are two NASA space probes launched in 1977 to explore the exoplanets and beyond. Voyager 1 focused on Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Following their primary mission, both probes have continued to study the outer limits of the solar system and are now traveling through interstellar space, sending back valuable data about the heliosphere and the wider universe beyond our solar system. These missions have greatly expanded our understanding of the solar system, and remain among the farthest human-made objects in space.