There is hope for Voyager 1 despite its worrying bug

NASA continues to investigate the causes of the worrying bug affecting Voyager 1 in interstellar space. A new signal from the mission seems promising.

For months, a space mission has been in difficulty very far from Earth. A mysterious bug affects the Voyager 1 probe: according to NASA scientists, the problem with the interstellar probe is serious. Nevertheless, recent announcements are encouraging, because in a new blog post on March 13, 2024, the US space agency announces that engineers are making progress in understanding Voyager 1’s malfunction.

The whole affair begins in November 2023, when Voyager 1 sends a radio signal towards our planet. It turns out that this signal no longer contains any usable data. NASA has speculated that the problem concerns one of the mission’s onboard computers, the “flight data subsystem” (FDS, for ” flight data subsystem “). It is used to gather scientific and technical data, then sent back to Earth by a telemetric modulation unit (“ telemetry modulation unit “). Obviously he can no longer do his job properly.

On March 3, hope returned. “ The team found that activity in one section of the FDS differed from the rest of the computer’s unreadable data stream. […] An engineer at the Deep Space Network, which manages the radio antennas communicating with Voyager and other spacecraft traveling to the Moon and beyond, was able to decode the new signal and discovered that it contained a reading of the entire FDS memory ”, it is explained.

Artist's impression of a Voyager probe.  // Source: NASA/JPL
Artist’s impression of a Voyager probe. // Source: NASA/JPL

A Voyager 1 rescue operation 24 billion km from Earth

Next step: compare the famous data displayed with those that had been obtained before the Voyager 1 bug occurred. NASA will thus be able to look for possible differences in the code (the instructions followed by the probe) and in the variables (values ​​in this code which diverge depending on the commands and the state of Voyager 1).

If the rescue of the mission is long and tedious, it is because Voyager 1 is operating more than 24 billion kilometers from Earth. More than 22 hours are necessary for a radio signal to reach the mission — and as much for a response from the probe to reach us. Not to mention the time it takes for scientists to delve into the data and implement solutions.

Subscribe to Numerama on Google News so you don’t miss any news!

Source link -100