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Voyager-1 Transmits Legible Data from Outer Space Once More

After months of spewing meaningless data, the US space agency reports that the Voyager-1 probe is now again returning useful information to Earth.

The NASA spacecraft, which is 46 years old, is the furthest object for humanity.

In November, a computer glitch prevented it from providing intelligible data, although engineers have now resolved this.

Voyager is currently only returning health information about its onboard systems, but with enough effort, the scientific instruments should be brought back online.

Voyager-1 is so far away—more than 24 billion kilometers or 15 billion miles—that it takes us a full 22.5 hours to receive its radio transmissions.
“Voyager-1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems,” Nasa stated in a statement.

“The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again.”

When Voyager-1 was launched in 1977 to explore the outer planets, it continued indefinitely.

In 2012, it left the heliosphere, the bubble of gas the Sun emitted, and became entrenched in interstellar space, which is made up of other stars’ gas, dust, and magnetic fields.

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The aging spacecraft’s current problems have been attributed to a corrupted chip.

This blocked a crucial section of software code that was needed to bundle data for transmission to Earth from being accessed by Voyager’s processors.

Engineers could determine Voyager was still getting commands and functioning normally, but for a while they were unable to get any sense out of the ship.

The affected code was moved to separate locations in the computers’ memory of the probe, which fixed the problem.

On September 5, 1977, Voyager-1 left Earth a few days after Voyager-2, its sister spacecraft.

Surveying Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune was the pair’s main goal, which they accomplished in 1989.

After that, they were sent toward deep space and, roughly speaking, the center of our galaxy.

They are powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which produce energy from heat produced by plutonium decay. Every year, the generators produce a little less electricity due to the ongoing degradation process.

It’s unclear how long the Voyagers can stay in operation, but engineers have always found means to extend their lifespan up to this point.

Voyager-2 is traveling a little more slowly and is lagging behind its twin.

About 20 billion kilometers (or 13 billion miles) separate it from Earth.

They would not approach another star for tens of thousands of years, despite the fact that both are traveling at speeds of nearly 15 km/s (9 miles/s).

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