NASA announces Voyager 1 spacecraft is once again conducting "normal science operations" at a distance of 15 billion miles
· Jun 15, 2024 ·

Launched about 50 years ago and now more than 15 billion miles from Earth, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has had quite a year.

First, someone turned the antenna the wrong way, which is kind of a big deal in deep space:

Then, earlier this year, scientists were worried that the ancient spacecraft may have finally gone silent:

This week, however, NASA announced that the ol' boy is once again talking:

The team partially resolved the issue in April when they prompted the spacecraft to begin returning engineering data, which includes information about the health and status of the spacecraft. On May 19, the mission team executed the second step of that repair process and beamed a command to the spacecraft to begin returning science data. Two of the four science instruments returned to their normal operating modes immediately. Two other instruments required some additional work, but now, all four are returning usable science data.

Voyager turning back on like:

The NASA crew still has some work to do: The team will "resynchronize timekeeping software in the spacecraft's three onboard computers" as well as "perform maintenance on the digital tape recorder, which records some data for the plasma wave instrument that is sent to Earth twice per year."

(You got to love picturing NASA's high-tech, highly trained engineering crew "performing maintenance on a digital tape recorder" that was made when Jimmy Carter was president.)

Voyager 1 and its sister Voyager 2 are "NASA's longest-running and most-distant spacecraft." The Voyager 1 craft has a maximum lifespan that will take it until about 2030 at most.

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