Space: Voyager Spacecraft Calls Home


May 5, 2024: NASA Engineers made very long distance repairs on one of the two Voyager Spacecraft launched in 1977. NASA partially restored communications functions on their 773 kg Voyager 1 spacecraft. This ended five months of silence from Voyager 1, which was still able to receive commands. Voyager 1 is currently 24.2 billion kilometers from Earth. It takes 22.5 hours for a signal to reach Voyager 1 from earth and the same amount of time for Voyager response to reach earth.

Voyager 1 passed the Heliopause and left our solar system for interstellar space in 20012. Voyager 2 followed in 2018. Interstellar Space is 14.9 billion kilometers from earth and is the point where an object from earth is free of any gravity, electronic or other influence from our solar system.

About 14 percent of Voyager’s weight is scientific instruments while the rest includes communications equipment and the nuclear powered electric power system. NASA is constantly reconfiguring the power supply to make it last longer. Current estimates that the Voyager spacecraft can retain some capabilities until 2036. That is 59 years after the Voyager spacecraft were launched.

Meanwhile NASA was able to repair the Voyager 1 communications system after five months of silence. This involved some very complex and time consuming troubleshooting and repairs on the Voyager 1 1970s era computer.

Voyager cannot store data so five months of data is lost. With communications restored, Voyager 1 resumed sending data and will continue for another twelve years and then shut down because the power supply system can no longer generate power for the two Voyager spacecraft. Voyager 2 never had any problems and has continued to transmit data back to earth.




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