NASA fixes Voyager 1 deep space probe by firing thrusters not used in 37 years

An artist concept depicting one of NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft

NASA has been in a position to prolong the lifetime of one in all its area probes travelling 13 billion miles from Earth by firing up dormant thrusters not used for 37 years.

Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977 and is the one human-made object in interstellar area – the atmosphere between the celebs.

However after 4 many years of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers discovered that the first thrusters which orient the area probe had severely degraded.

So, in an try and maintain Voyager 1 operable, NASA examined 4 thrusters on the again aspect of the spacecraft which haven’t been used 1980.

A Voyager 2 image of Saturn
A Voyager 2 picture of Saturn

After ready greater than 19-and-a-half hours for check outcomes to journey by means of area and attain an antenna in California, engineers discovered the dormant thrusters had labored “completely”.

NASA now plans to make use of the trajectory correction manoeuvre thrusters completely from January – giving Voyager 1 an additional two to a few years life.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Todd Barber mentioned: “The Voyager staff acquired extra excited every time with every milestone within the thruster check.

“The temper was one in all reduction, pleasure and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters decide up the baton as if no time had handed in any respect.”

An artist's concept shows Voyager 1 exploring the solar system's 'magnetic highway'
An artist’s idea reveals Voyager 1 exploring the photo voltaic system’s ‘magnetic freeway’

JPL chief engineer Chris Jones added: “The Voyager flight staff dug up decades-old knowledge and examined the software program that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to verify we might safely check the thrusters.”

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NASA says it would doubtless carry out an identical thruster check on Voyager 2, which was launched two weeks earlier than its twin in August 1977 and is on track to enter interstellar area within the subsequent few years.

Each plutonium-powered spaceships will proceed till they run out of gas, and can then orbit within the centre of the Milky Method galaxy.

Voyager mission timeline

1977 – Voyager 1 and a pair of are launched into area from Cape Canaveral, Florida

1979 – Voyager 1 encounters Jupiter, two years earlier than its twin

1980 – Voyager 1 surveys Saturn and its largest moon Titan, a yr earlier than Voyager 2 encounters a number of of Saturn’s icy moons

1986 – Voyager 2 footage Uranus, the primary time the seventh planet from the Solar was seen up-close

1989 – Voyager 2 then goes on to develop into the primary spacecraft to watch Neptune up shut

1998 – Voyager 1 develop into the farthest human-made object from Earth in area

2002 – NASA celebrates 25 years because the launch of each spacecraft

2014 – Voyager 1 makes the primary measurement of the density of the interstellar medium

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