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NASA is hoping for a miracle

NASA is hoping for a miracle

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Since November, NASA has had difficulties receiving data from the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Solving the problem is difficult.

PASADENA — NASA's oldest space probe still in use, Voyager 1, has been experiencing technical problems since mid-November. Usually transmitted from interstellar space (Current distance to ground:about 24.3 billion kilometers) is important data for scientists at the American Space Agency. But this has no longer been the case since November. It was assumed at the time that fixing the Voyager 1 bug would take several weeks.

NASA's Voyager 1 probe has not made contact with Earth since November

But the problem is still not solved. NASA has on X (formerly Twitter) Updated On the current state of work: “Engineers are still working to solve the data problem on Voyager 1. We can talk to the probe and it can hear us, but this is a slow process given the probe’s incredible distance from Earth.

NASA's Voyager 1 probe. © Imago/Stocktrek Images

The enormous distance between Voyager 1 and Earth has a huge impact on repair work. It currently takes 22 hours and 35 minutes for a signal from Earth to reach the space probe. A potential response from the probe would take a long time to reach scientists on Earth, further complicating the situation. Voyager 1 began its journey into space in the summer of 1977 and has been leaving the solar system behind for several years.

Voyager project director: “We have not given up yet”

“Voyager” project manager Susan Dodd explains in one of them meeting with Ars Technica Difficulties: “It would be the greatest miracle if we got it back. We haven't given up yet.” However, she remains optimistic: “There are other things we can try.” However, she adds a thought-provoking statement: “But this is the most serious problem of all since I became project manager.” Dodd was in charge of the Voyager probes Space at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) since 2010.

A computer problem that has plagued Voyager 1 for months prevents the probe from sending data to Earth. Therefore, NASA does not receive any scientific data or basic information about the spacecraft. Experts currently have no information about the space probe's engine, power source or control systems. in December NASA announcedThe probe merely sends out “a repeating pattern of 1s and 0s, as if it were stuck.”

Currently, the probe only sends a carrier tone back to Earth, which signals the NASA team that the probe is still alive. Changes in this signal show experts that Voyager 1 is receiving commands sent from Earth. “Unfortunately, we have not resolved the issue yet and have not recovered any telemetry data,” Dodd said.

The Voyager 1 problem is likely caused by a computer – it no longer has a backup

Since November, NASA experts have suspected that the problem with Voyager 1 may lie in one of the three computers on board. The Flight Data System (FDS) was apparently not communicating properly with a subsystem called the Telemetry Modulation Unit (TMU), resulting in data not being sent back to Earth, according to NASA. Dodd and her engineering team are now “99.9 percent sure” that the problem lies with the Defense and Security Forces. The most likely cause seems to be memory corruption in the system.

However, the missing Voyager data makes the team's work more difficult. “It's likely sitting in an FDS warehouse somewhere. A few have been altered or damaged. But without telemetry, we can't tell where the FDS memory has become damaged. As for other components that have shown signs of wear or failed over time, NASA has been able to shift To backup systems in some cases. However, this is no longer possible with FDS because the FDS backup had already failed in 1981.

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Will there be good news from NASA about Voyager 1?

It may be a while before good news arrives from Voyager 1 again, if ever. After more than 45 years in space, it is entirely possible that the probe will never function properly again. This would be a huge loss to space travel, as there are only a few space probes (besides Voyager 1, the twin probes Voyager 2 and Pioneer 10) in interstellar space. The last time Voyager 2 encountered problems was in the summer of 2023, but NASA was able to restore contact using “Interstellar Scream.”

Voyager 1 is a space travel legend. On its long journey to the edge of the solar system, it visited several planets and provided data-rich research. It also took the famous “pale blue dot” image, which shows the Earth as a small, pale blue dot over a wide area. (unpaid bill)

The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model to improve at her own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Find out more about our AI principles here.