In late June, researchers reported that Voyager 1 was sending data to Earth indicating that it had lost its orientation in space.
In general, the probe’s problems are not surprising given that it was originally sent on a five-year journey through the solar system. Meanwhile, 45 years have passed since the launch of the probe from the Earth’s surface. Therefore, the defects should not surprise anyone.
On the other hand, as long as the probe is working, everything should be done to keep it alive as long as possible.
After all, Voyager 1 and its sister spacecraft Voyager 2 provide the Earth with information about interstellar space, where we will not soon have another probe.
Controllers analyzing the data sent by the probe have just announced that Voyager 1 is again transmitting correct telemetry data to Earth.
It was known from the very beginning that the fault was related to the system responsible for ensuring that the probe’s antenna was always directed towards the Earth. If the antenna were to turn around, we would lose contact with the spacecraft (and the history of space exploration knows too many such cases).
The engineers found that somehow this antenna control system had begun to transmit telemetry data through an on-board computer that had been out of service for many years. It was this computer that distorted the data, which then ended up on Earth as a series of illogical information.
Once this was established, the engineers sent a command to the probe forcing the information to be sent via the correct computer. The problem disappeared as he took away with his hand. Of course, it took a while to see if the remedy worked.
After all, Voyager 1 is already over 23 billion kilometers from Earth, which in turn means that the signal sent from Earth is flying towards the probe for 22 hours. The signal confirming the execution of the command is flying just as much towards the Earth.
After the probe was restored to full health, the question arose: how could the probe suddenly start using a computer that everyone had long forgotten? In the coming weeks, scientists will analyze all records of the probe’s on-board computers to locate the cause of all the confusion.
It is possible that it all started with the wrong command sent to the instruments by another on-board computer. There is little chance of the failure repeating itself, but the researchers are still curious about what might have happened in the ‘brain’ of the 45-year-old probe.