Despite its 45-year age and distance of 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion kilometers) from Earth, Voyager, which are twin probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, works effectively. In addition, it can receive and execute orders supplied by NASA and collect and transmit scientific data.
But, on May 18, 2022, NASA stated that Voyager 1 had started sending mystery data. The probe’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) is responsible for managing the spacecraft’s orientation, directing the high gain antenna toward the Earth, and directing attitude movements.
Now the AACS has transmitted data that does not reflect the current situation aboard Voyager. NASA elaborated: Conceptualization of the spaceship Voyager 1.
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The duo, which launched from Earth in 1977, is about 14.5 billion miles (23 billion kilometers) from Earth. Far outside the sun’s zone of influence and continues to go outward. Now, though, Voyager 1 is sending back enigmatic information using decades-old technology.
(And remember: This is interstellar exploration. Solving mysteries takes time when messages to my team take nearly 20 hours to arrive!)— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) May 19, 2022
“…the data may appear to have been created at random or do not reflect any potential state the AACS may be in.”
The Voyager spacecraft departing the heliosphere is depicted by a diagram of a blue bubble with red gaseous wisps extending from it.
Voyager 1 is believed to have left our solar system in 2012 when it crossed the heliopause — the sun’s influence threshold – and entered interstellar space.
A message round travel time of 2 days
Voyager 1 still appears to be acquiring and transmitting scientific data. Thus it is presumed to be operating normally. It is receiving and executing orders from Earth, but an immense distance from us takes around two days to transmit and receive a message. Despite the odd form of the telemetry data readings, we know the antenna is still pointed toward us since we are still in contact with Voyager 1.
NASA said: The team will continue to closely monitor the signal to identify whether the incorrect data originates directly from the AACS or from another system involved in the production and transmission of telemetry data. Until the nature of the problem is better understood, the team cannot predict how this may impact the spacecraft’s ability to gather and send scientific data.
Voyager 1 is incomprehensibly dim even with the most powerful telescopes on Earth. Nevertheless, if we could see it on May 19, 2022, we would locate it in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bear, which would be climbing before midnight and high in the sky before daybreak. Image by via of TheSkyLive
Suzanne Dodd, manager of the Voyager 1 and 2 commented: Voyager 1 is the furthest remote object created by humans from Earth. Working with a system that is so far and that was created so many decades ago creates additional obstacles beyond the communication delay.
At this point of the Voyager mission, a puzzle of this nature is quite commonplace. Both spacecraft are far older than mission planners had planned. Interstellar space is a high-radiation region in which no spacecraft has ever flown. Consequently, the engineering team faces significant obstacles. But I believe that if there is a solution to this problem with the AACS, our team will discover it.
Once the team identifies the cause of the issue, engineers may be able to resolve it by modifying the spacecraft’s software or utilizing one of its backup hardware systems. However, if they cannot identify the cause of the issue, they may be forced to accept the disparities.
Voyager 1 has already experienced hurdles. In 2017, the primary engines of the spacecraft exhibited symptoms of wear and strain. On Voyager 1, the engineers replaced the thrusters used during the mission’s contacts with planets 37 years ago. It illustrates the Voyager spacecraft’s extraordinary durability and brilliant design.
NASA: Keep in mind that this is interplanetary exploration. It takes a long to solve puzzles when my team’s messages take over twenty hours to arrive!
(And remember: This is interstellar exploration. Solving mysteries takes time when messages to my team take nearly 20 hours to arrive!)
— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) May 19, 2022