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StartSpaceEngineers investigating NASA's Voyager 1 telemetry knowledge

Engineers investigating NASA’s Voyager 1 telemetry knowledge

Engineers investigating NASA’s Voyager 1 telemetry data
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, proven on this illustration, has been exploring our photo voltaic system since 1977, together with its twin, Voyager 2. Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Whereas the Voyager 1 spacecraft continues to return science knowledge and in any other case function as regular, the mission workforce is looking for the supply of a system knowledge problem.

The engineering workforce with NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is attempting to unravel a thriller: The interstellar explorer is working usually, receiving and executing instructions from Earth, together with gathering and returning science knowledge. However readouts from the probe’s angle articulation and management system (AACS) do not replicate what’s really taking place onboard.

The AACS controls the 45-year-old spacecraft’s orientation. Amongst different duties, it retains Voyager 1’s high-gain antenna pointed exactly at Earth, enabling it to ship knowledge residence. All indicators counsel the AACS remains to be working, however the telemetry knowledge it is returning is invalid. As an illustration, the info might look like randomly generated, or doesn’t replicate any attainable state the AACS could possibly be in.

The problem hasn’t triggered any onboard fault safety methods, that are designed to place the spacecraft into „„—a state the place solely important operations are carried out, giving engineers time to diagnose a difficulty. Voyager 1’s sign hasn’t weakened, both, which suggests the high-gain antenna stays in its prescribed orientation with Earth.

The workforce will proceed to watch the sign carefully as they proceed to find out whether or not the invalid knowledge is coming immediately from the AACS or one other system concerned in producing and sending knowledge. Till the character of the difficulty is best understood, the workforce can’t anticipate whether or not this may have an effect on how lengthy the spacecraft can acquire and transmit science knowledge.

Voyager 1 is at present 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion kilometers) from Earth, and it takes gentle 20 hours and 33 minutes to journey that distinction. Meaning it takes roughly two days to ship a message to Voyager 1 and get a response—a delay the mission workforce is nicely accustomed to.

„A thriller like that is kind of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission,“ stated Suzanne Dodd, venture supervisor for Voyager 1 and a pair of at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. „The spacecraft are each virtually 45 years outdated, which is way past what the mission planners anticipated. We’re additionally in —a high-radiation atmosphere that no spacecraft have flown in earlier than. So there are some massive challenges for the engineering workforce. However I feel if there is a solution to remedy this problem with the AACS, our workforce will discover it.“

It is attainable the workforce might not discover the supply of the and can as a substitute adapt to it, Dodd stated. In the event that they do discover the supply, they can remedy the difficulty by software program adjustments or doubtlessly through the use of one of many spacecraft’s redundant {hardware} methods.

It would not be the primary time the Voyager workforce has relied on backup {hardware}: In 2017, Voyager 1’s major thrusters confirmed indicators of degradation, so engineers switched to a different set of thrusters that had initially been used through the spacecraft’s planetary encounters. These thrusters labored, regardless of having been unused for 37 years.

Voyager 1’s twin, Voyager 2 (at present 12.1 billion miles, or 19.5 billion kilometers, from Earth), continues to function usually.

Launched in 1977, each Voyagers have operated far longer than mission planners anticipated, and are the one spacecraft to gather knowledge in interstellar house. The knowledge they supply from this area has helped drive a deeper understanding of the heliosphere, the diffuse barrier the solar creates across the planets in our photo voltaic system.

Every spacecraft produces about 4 fewer watts {of electrical} energy a 12 months, limiting the variety of methods the craft can run. The mission engineering workforce has switched off numerous subsystems and heaters to be able to reserve energy for science devices and important methods. No science devices have been turned off but on account of the diminishing energy, and the Voyager workforce is working to maintain the 2 spacecraft working and returning distinctive science past 2025.

Whereas the engineers proceed to work at fixing the thriller that Voyager 1 has introduced them, the mission’s scientists will proceed to benefit from the info coming down from the ’s distinctive vantage level.

Voyager 2 engineers working to revive regular operations

Extra data:
For extra details about the Voyager spacecraft, go to:

Engineers investigating NASA’s Voyager 1 telemetry knowledge (2022, Might 18)
retrieved 18 Might 2022

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