Launched in 1977 by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, it returns data that baffles scientists.
Experts are trying to find out the nature of the problem.
. what do we know
What is the background of the NASA Voyager 1 mission?
On September 5, 1977, NASA’s Voyager 1 was launched. This was part of a program to analyze the outer solar system and interstellar space outside the heliosphere. The heliosphere is a bubble around a planet. This is caused by the sun’s radiation from its solar wind.
Voyager 1 is located 14.5 billion kilometers from Earth (as of January 2022). (You can check the distances on the NASA website.)
We have been feeding data back to scientists for 45 years.
The spacecraft established flights of Jupiter, Saturn and Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to cross the solar interface and enter interstellar space.
The light takes 20 hours and 33 minutes to transmit the difference, so it takes about two days to send a message to Voyager 1 and get a response.
Now, what’s wrong with NASA Voyager 1?
According to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, which built the spacecraft, “the interstellar spacecraft is operating normally, receiving and executing commands from Earth, in addition to collecting and returning scientific data .
“However, readings from the hinge and the probe’s postural control system (AACS) do not reflect what is actually happening on board.”
“The data may appear to be randomly generated or may not reflect the possible situations AACS may find itself in,” he added.
Voyager 1’s twin, Voyager 2 (now 20.1 billion miles from Earth and launched in 1977) continues to operate normally.
What could be causing this?
The two Voyagers have been operating for much longer than mission planners expected and are the only two spacecraft to collect data from interstellar space.
Aging and hostile environments could be to blame, said Susan Dodd, project manager for NASA’s Voyager 1 jet propulsion laboratory and sister spacecraft Voyager 2.
“Mysteries like this are what happens at this point in the Voyager mission,” she explained. Both ships are around 45 years old, much longer than expected by mission planners.
“We are also in interstellar space. It is a highly radioactive environment where no spacecraft has flown before.
What future for the probe?
NASA said it will “closely monitor the signal while continuing to determine if the bad data is coming directly from AACS or other systems involved in the generation and transmission of telemetry data.”
Dodd said the team would not find the cause of the problem and adapt.
If they can fix it, they can do so through a software change or “using one of the ship’s redundant hardware systems”.
He said it was impossible to predict the length of spacecraft that would be able to “collect and transmit scientific data” until the nature of the problem was discovered.