More than 15 billion miles and nearly 50 years from Earth, the Voyager spacecraft may have permanently gone silent
ยท Apr 16, 2024 ยท

NASA launched the Voyager probes in 1977, but even now they're still getting some use out of them:

True, NASA like every other government institution has become wokefied, which presents some problems:

But even if the space agency were 100% based, they couldn't prevent the slow, gradual breakdown of this (by modern standards) ancient spacecraft:

Engineers at NASA have pinpointed some corrupted memory as the cause of Voyager 1's troubles and are working on a remote fix to deal with the hardware problem.

A "remote fix" is of course all they can do. You can't exactly send a repairman 15 billion miles out into the cosmos to tinker with the onboard circuitry.

The spacecraft, which is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space, "began sending unreadable data back to Earth in late 2023."

(It's pretty astonishing that this absolutely prehistoric piece of technology โ€” dated to right around the founding of both Apple and Microsoft โ€” can send any data back to our planet. But I digress.)

After sending a command to the spacecraft last year, the team received "a complete memory dump" from its onboard computer. They learned that "approximately 3 percent" of the Flight Data System had been corrupted.

Three percent doesn't sound like a lot. But it could spell the end of the spacecraft's usability:

That corruption is preventing normal operation of the FDS, which is responsible for packaging the probe's engineering and science data before it gets passed to the Telemetry Modulation Unit (TMU), the radio transmitter and is sent back to Earth.

The scientists speculate that "the chip has simply worn out having spent 46 years in space," or else that "an energetic particle might have damaged it."

When your ship is unthinkable billions of miles away, all you can do is guess.

The engineers, meanwhile, are hoping to "find a way for the FDS to operate normally without the unusable memory hardware."

If these guys find a way to keep this 50-year-long train running, I'll be very impressed!

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