NASA Recovers Function on Voyager 2 Spacecraft After Minor Glitch
The Voyager 2 spacecraft, certainly one of simply two human-made objects to succeed in interstellar house, skilled a slight malfunction this week.
An operational hiccup brought on the greater than 40-year-old probe to enter a low-power mode Saturday. NASA engineers have since managed to speak with the probe and have begun powering varied devices again up. It’s not but recognized what brought on the malfunction, in line with the house company.
The hassle started when Voyager 2 failed to finish a routine operation to calibrate its magnetic discipline instrument, during which it rotates a full 360 levels. This brought on a cascade of occasions: Two power-hungry techniques had been mistakenly left energetic, and the surplus drain on the vitality provide triggered an automated fail-safe, putting most techniques offline.
Voyager 2 can nonetheless talk with Earth, and NASA engineers say they’ve restored the science devices system to performance and turned off one of many techniques draining energy. They’re nonetheless trying to kind out what brought on the unique challenge, nevertheless.
Careful vitality administration is necessary for each Voyager probes as they enter their fifth decade of service. They are powered by nuclear mills that use the warmth from the decay of radioactive parts to supply vitality. But their provide of gasoline dwindles yearly, and the craft are steadily shedding energy. NASA has already shut off some techniques on Voyager 2 to protect essential features.
But even because the craft transfer additional into senescence, they proceed to return invaluable information. Both Voyager probes have crossed the heliopause, the purpose at which the bubble of the photo voltaic wind offers approach to interstellar house. Voyager’s devices offered essential information because the spacecraft crossed this ultimate boundary, and proceed to take action as they fly outward into the interstellar medium.
Of best significance to NASA engineers is the flexibility to regulate the spacecraft’s orientation. When the probes can not level their antennas again at Earth, we’ll lose communication with them for good.
It’s already an arduous course of: Because Voyager 2 is a few 11.5 billion miles from Earth, it takes messages 17 hours to journey a method. The more-than-day-long communication course of signifies that NASA engineers should wait agonizing hours to see whether or not their instructions have been obtained.
But for now, Voyager 2 seems to be doing high quality. NASA says they’ve stabilized the drain of extra energy and are working to determine precisely what went improper. Meanwhile, Voyager’s devices are again on-line, although not taking information but, and the spacecraft continues its voyage past the frontiers of human exploration. Let’s hope it stays that manner for fairly a while.