March 22, 2023


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Voyager 1 was sending out 'fuzzy signals'.  The mystery has been solved, and another has appeared

Voyager 1 was sending out ‘fuzzy signals’. The mystery has been solved, and another has appeared

NASA scientists explain why Voyager 1 is transmitting useless telemetry data. The solution to the puzzle was to start a computer that had been considered malfunctioning for years. Now the engineers have another confusion – they must find out what led to this.

After weeks of guessing, Voyager 1 scientists have discovered the source of the “mysterious signals.”

The old computer was working

A device that has been traversing space for 45 years began providing tantalizing information a few months ago. We reported this vulnerability in May. NASA suspected the problem was with AACS communications and site control. The solution turned out to be even more surprising.

– AACS started sending telemetry data through an internal computer that stopped working years ago. He spoiled the information – she said NASA Tuesday. Perhaps the rest of the spacecraft is doing just fine.

When engineers began guessing that Voyager 1 was using the old computer, they simply sent a command to the probe to get the system back on track. Repair was not risky for the task, but it took a long time. The radio signal takes approximately 22 hours to reach Voyager 1, more than 23.5 billion kilometers from Earth.

Voyager 1 – VisualizationThuy May / NASA

One puzzle led to another

While the bug has now been fixed, NASA engineers have another puzzle to solve – what made Voyager start using the old computer?

“We are excited to have remote tracking back,” said Susan Dodd, Voyager Project Manager. – We’ll make a full AACS memory read and look at everything you’ve done. This will help us diagnose the factor that caused the telemetry problem, she added.

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Scientists believe that Voyager 1 started using the wrong computer because it received such a command from the onboard computer. This may indicate another connection issue with Voyager itself. However, the mission management did not believe that the complications would affect the spacecraft’s flight forward.

“We are a cautious optimist because we still have a lot to do,” Dodd added.

In 1977, NASA launched two twin probes – Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Initially, their mission was to explore the outer planets of the solar system. Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter and Saturn, reaching interstellar space in 2012. The second probe reached this milestone six years later.

Main image source: Thuy May / NASA