We found out what was wrong with the Voyager 1 interstellar probe

We found out what was wrong with the Voyager 1 interstellar probe

We found out what was wrong with the Voyager 1 interstellar probe

A strange behavior of the Voyager 1 mission is finally better understood. The interstellar probe was sending invalid data, when otherwise it seems to be fine.

Something strange was happening with the Voyager 1 interstellar probe. The origin of this mysterious bug has finally been almost elucidated, NASA announced on August 30, 2022, several months after the problem was noticed. The mission was sending invalid data on its condition and activity, while Voyager 1 appeared to be fine as it continued its journey through interstellar space.

The concern concerned a subsystem, the AACS (” articulation and attitude control system ”), Which is used to control the orientation of the probe and its attitude maneuvers. The AACS is also used to keep the ship’s antenna pointed towards our planet, to transmit data correctly. It was this system that sent incorrect information about Voyager 1 to Earth when ” the rest of the probe looked healthy and continued to collect and return scientific data “, Underlines the space agency in its recent press release.

Voyager 1 had the wrong on-board computer

Now NASA knows what was wrong with the probe: Voyager 1 was not sending data to the correct component. ” AACS had started sending telemetry data via an onboard computer that had stopped working years earlier and the computer corrupted that information “, Explains the agency. Measures have therefore been taken to ensure that the AACS resumes sending information to the correct on-board computer.

nasa star travel probe
A space-traveling probe, illustration. // Source: JPL screenshot

However, a small part of the mystery remains. It is not yet known why Voyager 1 started sending telemetry data to the wrong computer. A hypothesis put forward by NASA would be that the AACS received ” an incorrect command generated by another on-board computer. If so, that would indicate that there is a problem elsewhere in the spacecraft. It is planned to examine the memory of this subsystem, to verify what it could have done. Therefore, NASA hopes to trace even more precise sources of the accident.

In any case, the agency cautiously rejoices that it has been able to pursue the problem. Voyager 1, like its colleague Voyager 2, are old probes, which are not immune to malfunctions. They have been exploring the solar system for 45 years and are now outside the zone of influence of the wind emitted by the sun.

See the world from space

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.