🛰️ Hello again! Voyager 1 begins sending back to Earth after five months of silence

  • Voyager 1 is humanity’s most distant spacecraft at 24 billion kilometers from Earth.
  • NASA engineers were able to fix the communication error using creative solutions.
  • Initial data shows that Voyager 1 is in good condition and functioning properly.

NASA Solves Voyager 1 Puzzle

Voyager 1, humanity’s most distant spacecraft at 24 billion kilometers from Earth, recently began transmitting data again after a five-month hiatus.

Problems began in November 2023 when Voyager 1’s telemetry modulation unit began repeatedly sending an unintelligible code sequence. Although the space probe continues to transmit radio signals, the accompanying data is unusable. After months of troubleshooting and testing, the team sent a command on March 1 to get the system to run different software scenarios, which eventually led to a solution.

On March 3, the team noticed erratic activity in the data, which became the clue they needed to solve the problem. Three percent of the spacecraft’s memory is damaged. A chip that stores part of the computer’s memory is malfunctioning. The problem is thought to be due to wear or an energetic particle from space.
Since there was no way to repair the chip directly, the team decided to move the affected code to other parts of the memory.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, photographed by Voyager 1. Wikimedia Commons.

Results and follow-up

After relocating the code, engineers sent a radio signal to Voyager 1 on April 18 advising of the new memory locations. On April 20, the spacecraft confirmed that the modifications were successful and usable engineering data could be retrieved.

Despite the challenges presented by aging technology in deep space, Voyager 1 continues to be an important source of knowledge and inspiration. The team is now preparing to restore other affected parts of the system’s software and looks forward to receiving scientific data that could provide further insights into our solar system.

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News tip: Thomas Ahlström

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