NASA will manage to save the legendary probe Voyager 1!

A big sigh of relief at NASA since engineers received a signal from Voyager 1, launched in 1977. Four months have passed without any intelligible news from this probe, the first to cross the borders of the solar system to venture into even more distant galaxies.

For 12 years, Voyager 1 has been traveling through areas that humans will probably never reach, and today it is approximately 24 billion kilometers from Earth! To get an idea of ​​the distance, it takes almost two days for a radio signal to travel from Voyager 1 to Earth and back. It is simply the farthest ship from Earth. Its twin brother, Voyager 2, is only 20 billion kilometers away.

Voyager 1 responds to the command

Since November, the signal sent by Voyager 1 has not carried usable data, and the problem was caused by one of the spacecraft's three onboard computers. Even worse, communication seems to be stuck in a loop…

But hope has returned since March 3, when Voyager 1 responded to the engineering team's message. It was an order, called a “poke” (like on Facebook…), sent on March 1. His goal? Have the computer connected to the flight data run various software sequences in case something goes wrong.

The engineer deciphers the message

On March 3, the team noticed that activity in a portion of the flight data system was being separated from other truncated data. This was a sign that the command had been assimilated. Although the returned signal did not resemble the messages normally sent by the flight data system, a Deep Space Network engineer was able to decode it.

The decoded signal included a readout of the entire flight data system memory, according to the NASA report. “The (flight data system) memory includes its code or instructions on what to do, as well as variables or values ​​used in the code that can be changed depending on commands or the state of the spacecraft,” we read in this report. “It also contains scientific or technical information for the downlink. The team will compare this reading to what was reported before the problem occurred and look for inconsistencies in the code and variables to potentially find the source of the ongoing problem. »

No update right away

A new signal recently received by the spacecraft will help understand exactly what is happening to Voyager 1 and why the probe can no longer transmit science data. Engineers are currently analyzing Voyager 1's memory readout after initially starting the decoding process on March 7 and finding meaning three days later.

“Using this information to design a potential solution and try to implement it will take time,” the US space agency warns. But the main thing is that Voyager 1 is still communicating and can respond to commands.

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