NASA Engineers Perform Remote Surgery on Voyager Probes, Extending Their Interstellar Mission

UNITED STATES: In a testament to NASA’s enduring mission of exploration, the legendary Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, which embarked on their epic space journey 46 years ago, are receiving critical updates from Earth to prolong their remarkable voyages.

These updates include a much-needed software fix to address the corrupted data transmission issues that Voyager 1 encountered last year and a strategy to prevent residue buildup in the spacecraft’s thrusters.

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Voyager 1 had engineers scratching their heads when it began transmitting “gobbledygook” from its attitude articulation and control system (AACS) in May 2022. Investigation revealed that the AACS hardware was in perfect working condition, but it had somehow routed telemetry data through a defunct onboard computer, leading to data corruption.

NASA’s adept engineers swiftly devised a software patch to resolve the issue, and Voyager 2 received the update on October 20. While the mystery behind the initial diversion remains, confidence is high that this software patch will restore proper data transmission once it completes its journey to Voyager 1.

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Meanwhile, the Voyager probes face a different challenge: the accumulation of residue in their thrusters’ inlet tubes, potentially obstructing vital functions. To combat this, engineers have initiated manoeuvres to reduce the frequency of thruster firings. If successful, this strategy should extend the probes’ operational life by at least five more years.

Linda Spilker, project scientist for the Voyager mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, emphasized the creativity of the engineering team in overcoming the unforeseen challenges they continue to encounter. She stated, “This far into the mission, the engineering team is being faced with a lot of challenges for which we just don’t have a playbook. But they continue to come up with creative solutions.”

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The updates highlight NASA’s dedication to extracting every last bit of knowledge and discovery from these iconic spacecraft, ensuring that Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 will remain in contact with Earth for as long as possible as they venture deeper into the cosmos.

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