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NASA Fixes Data Transmission Issue on Voyager 1

Telemetry data

NASA Fixes Data Transmission Issue on Voyager 1

NASA’s engineers have identified Voyager 1’s onboard computer as the cause of distorted information coming from the spacecraft’s attitude articulation and control system. The computer ceased working several years ago and corrupted the telemetry data sent to mission controllers. Experts at the space agency speculated that the AACS started routing data about the spacecraft’s health and activities to the non-functional computer due to a faulty command it received from another onboard computer. 

Engineers have already tasked the AACS to route information to the right system to correct the data transmission process, but they will continue investigating the issue to determine other potential problems, NASA said. According to Suzanne Dodd, Voyager’s project manager, the investigation will involve a full memory readout of the AACS to pinpoint the main culprit.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, expressed confidence that the team will solve the mystery like other spacecraft issues that surfaced before. The official, however, said that Voyager 1 cannot continue its mission forever, noting that its nuclear power source is deteriorating, causing the satellite to operate at temperatures colder than it can withstand.

“If one day, it’s no longer solved, it is an immediate success and we should take out the champagne,” Zurbuchen said at a meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Space Studies Board in June.

Voyager 1 was launched on Sept. 5, 1977, for space exploration. Data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory showed that the satellite is now in interstellar space, traveling at around 38,000 mph. It is located approximately 14.6 billion miles away from Earth, making it the farthest spacecraft from the planet.

JPL has been operating Voyager 1 for 45 years, exceeding the satellite’s five-year life span. The spacecraft has made several discoveries, including a thin ring around Jupiter, two new Jovian moons, and Saturn’s five new moons and G-ring.

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Category: Space

Tags: AACS Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA space space exploration Suzanne Dodd telemetry data Thomas Zurbuchen Voyager 1