Voyager 1 sends unusual indicators from past the photo voltaic system. Scientists are confused.

Spending 45 years traversing the solar 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 seen that it appeared confused about its location in area with out going into protected mode or in any other case sounding an alarm.

“A thriller like that is form of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission,” Suzanne Dodd, venture supervisor for Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, stated in a statement.

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“The spacecraft are each virtually 45 years previous, which is much past what the mission planners anticipated,” Dodd added. “We’re additionally in interstellar area — a high-radiation surroundings 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 superb, because the spacecraft is receiving instructions, performing on them and sending science information again to Earth with the identical sign energy as traditional. However, the AACS is sending the spacecraft’s handlers junk telemetry information.

The NASA assertion doesn’t specify when the problem started or how lengthy it has lasted.

The company says that Voyager personnel will proceed to research the problem and try and both repair or adapt to it. That is a sluggish course of, since a sign from Earth presently takes 20 hours and 33 minutes to achieve Voyager 1; receiving the spacecraft’s response carries the identical delay.

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The dual Voyager 2 probe, additionally launched in 1977, is behaving usually, NASA stated. The facility the dual spacecraft can produce is all the time falling, and mission group members have turned some elements off to save lots of juice — measures they hope will preserve the probes working by way of no less than 2025.

“There are some massive challenges for the engineering group,” Dodd stated. “However I believe if there is a option to clear up this difficulty with the AACS, our group will discover it.”

E mail Meghan Bartels at or comply with her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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