After traveling billions of miles and spending nearly 50 years in space, NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe began beaming meaningless data back to Earth. Launched in 1977, the spacecraft was initially on her five-year mission to fly by Jupiter and Saturn, but somehow has continued venturing further into space for the past 46 years. It was the first man-made object to leave the solar system. BBC report.
In 2023, the signal from Voyager 1 will typically take more than 22 hours to reach Earth. but, NASA The spacecraft, currently located 15 billion miles from Earth, has reported a communications failure.
Voyager 1 has three onboard computers. One is dedicated to flight data, collecting information from the spacecraft’s scientific instruments, and the other handles engineering data, acting like a coded health bar that reflects Voyager 1’s status.
On Earth, NASA receives transmitted data in binary code. Binary code is a language that uses 0s and 1s to represent letters, numbers, and symbols. Binary code is so named because it relies on only two symbols.
However, a notable issue arose when the probe exhibited repetitive behavior and consistently sent the same code snippet. This repetition led scientists to suspect that the spacecraft was malfunctioning.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is responsible for managing numerous robotic missions, addressed the situation on social media, writing, “The NASA Voyager team is investigating an issue with Voyager 1’s flight data system. It is receiving and executing commands sent from it, but it is not executing them.” Returns usable data. ”
Last year, NASA announced its decision to shut down certain systems on both Voyager 1 and its Voyager 2 counterpart. This strategic measure aims to maximize the operational life of the plutonium power source before depletion.
Projections suggest that these probes will remain functional until 2030. Once this milestone is reached, the transmitter and equipment cease to function and the spacecraft comes to a standstill, eventually drifting aimlessly through space.
These remarkable spacecraft have the distinction of being the only man-made objects to operate beyond the vast region of the Sun’s magnetic field and particle heliosphere, which extends far beyond the orbit of Pluto.