Engineers on NASA’s Voyager mission applied a A set of measures to help ensure the two probes, launched in 1977, can continue exploring interstellar space for a few more years, while maintaining contact with Earth. For as long as possible.
One of the actions has to do with A Possible accumulation of fuel debris inside the narrow tubes of some ship engines. This is an important aspect, as thrusters are used to keep each Voyager’s antenna pointed at Earth – which in turn is essential for transmitting information.
The team is also working on Submit a software fix to avoid a repeat of a bug that appeared on Voyager 1 last year, which has since been resolved, but may occur again On Voyager 1 or appearing on its “twin sister”, Voyager 2.
“At this point, the mission engineering team faces many challenges for which there is simply no evidence,” Linda Spilker, part of the project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. “But they continue to find creative solutions,” he adds.
One challenge occurred at the end of last July, when the North American Agency Lost contact with Voyager 2After the ship’s antenna was subjected to a slight accidental deflection Data transfer interruption.
And with what happened, The spacecraft was not receiving orders from the NASA team and was not sending the usual data recorded in space to Earth. However, this was expected to be a problem temporary – And it was.
Voyager is programmed to readjust its direction several times a year to keep its antenna pointed toward Earth.
both of them They have already completed 46 years in space Recently, the North American Space Agency announced that it will keep its scientific instruments active for a few more years, even though it is 19.9 billion kilometers away.
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NASA’s ambitious space program began in the summer of 1977, initially with the launch of the Space Program The launch of Voyager 2 on August 20, and two weeks later, the launch of the twin spacecraft Voyager 1 on September 5.It is the farthest human-made space object from Earth, currently about 24 billion kilometers away.
Both flights were sent with the main one A mission to closely study the four giant planets orbiting the SunIn addition to the asteroid belt: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Watch the Voyager 2 launch video
Originally, They were built to last only about five years and to collect information about Jupiter and Saturn onlySince preparing them to visit Uranus and Neptune would be very expensive.
Surprisingly, The two probes ended up staying (much) longer than expected and were able to “complete” the gas giants.
Although they are still at the forefront of space exploration, The Twin Tentacles are authentic “time capsules” of their era: They have about three million times less memory than a current cell phone and transfer data about 38,000 times slower than a 5G Internet connection.
They are also known for carrying each, A gold-covered copper disc, 30 cm in diameter, recording information about life on Earth. The combined data includes images, ambient sounds, music, and greetings in 55 different languages – including one in Portuguese.
Another achievement that no one can take away from them is that so far, The only sensors that operate outside the heliosphere, The protective bubble of particles created by the Sun’s magnetic field where the planets reside, Explore the galactic ocean of interstellar space.
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