“Greatest miracle” – NASA regains contact with famous “Voyager 1” space probe

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Description: NASA's Voyager spacecraft in space. © imago/Science Photo Library

After months of radio silence, NASA has regained contact with the Voyager 1 space probe. But the problem is still not completely solved.

PASADENA – The Voyager 1 spacecraft has set a record for being the first man-made object to land on Earth. For many years it has been beyond us, in interstellar space The Solar SystemIt sent valuable scientific data to Earth until November 14, 2023. However, since then, the US space agency NASA Interpretable data from “Voyager 1” is no longer available.. One reason for concern is that space exploration is an important scientific tool because it is so far away from Earth.

Voyager 1 sent incomprehensible signals for five months

For more than five months, Voyager 1's difficulties plagued a team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). However, these concerns may now be over. On April 20, 2024, Voyager 1 transmitted a signal to Earth for the first time that the Voyager crew could understand. NASA Sea This is the first time in five months that the condition and health of the spacecraft has been examined.

Voyager 1
5. September 1977
24.3 billion kilometers
22 hours 33 minutes
4 out of 10 original
An identical sister probe Voyager 2 launched two weeks earlier
They are: NASA

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft sends a clear signal to Earth

However, months before this positive news arrived, the team had been desperately trying to get Voyager 1 talking again. The challenge: The space probe is too far away to see and repair—after all, there is more than 24 billion kilometers between Earth and the probe that launched in 1977. It also affects repair efforts: A signal takes about 22 hours and 33 minutes to travel between Earth and the space probe — and the return trip takes even longer.

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The Voyager crew had to wait nearly two days after each transition to send the spacecraft into space. Only then can you see if the changes have been successful. On April 20th the time finally came: the team was able to find and fix the problem on “Voyager 1”. According to NASA, the Flight Data Subsystem (FDS), one of three computers on board the spacecraft, was at the center of the problem.

A chip on board “Voyager 1” is defective

FDS is responsible for packaging science and status data before sending them to Earth. However, some FDS software was stored on a chip that turned out to be defective. Thus the data sent cannot be read. Because you can't easily replace a defective chip in space, the team had to get creative. Solution: Affected software code should be stored somewhere else in FDS memory.

On April 18, a command was first sent to Voyager 1 to store code that would compile the spacecraft's computer data elsewhere. The spacecraft's response attempt on April 20 showed success — Voyager 1 sent back a readable status update. The rest of the affected software will be migrated this way over the next few weeks. “Voyager 1” will then send readable science data back to Earth. Many researchers are already waiting.

“Voyager 1” is a legendary NASA space probe

The NASA space probe “Voyager 1” is famous for space travel: it visited many planets on its way to the edge of the solar system and provided research with a lot of data. Among other things, he took the famous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph, which shows the Earth as a tiny pale blue dot in the vastness of space.

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Suzanne Dodd, head of the “Voyager” project, expressed cautious optimism in February: “It would be a huge miracle if we got her back. We're a long way from giving up.” The “greatest miracle” seems to be happening right now. (tab)

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