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From Beyond Beyond, Voyager 1's unexpected message sparks hope and intrigue
File illustration of Voyager 1 in interstellar space.
From Beyond Beyond, Voyager 1's unexpected message sparks hope and intrigue
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 15, 2024

Since November 2023, NASA's Voyager 1 has been emitting a consistent radio signal back to Earth, albeit one devoid of decipherable data. This enigmatic signal has been traced back to an anomaly within the spacecraft's flight data subsystem (FDS), a key onboard computer tasked with the compilation and transmission of vital scientific and engineering data.

On March 3, a deviation in the FDS's output was detected, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the persistent silence. This variation from the typical, indecipherable data stream prompted an investigation by the Voyager mission team.

Their efforts bore fruit when an engineer from NASA's Deep Space Network, responsible for the sprawling antenna array that communicates with distant spacecraft, successfully decoded this anomalous signal. Surprisingly, it contained a full readout of the FDS memory, encompassing operational codes, variable values, and the much-anticipated scientific and engineering data.

This discovery ensued from a specific command issued to Voyager 1 on March 1, affectionately referred to as a "poke" by the mission team. This command aimed to stimulate the FDS into trying alternative operational sequences, potentially circumventing any corrupted software sections.

Given Voyager 1's staggering distance of over 15 billion miles from our planet, communication with the spacecraft is a protracted affair, with signals taking approximately 22.5 hours to traverse the vast expanse of space in either direction. Following the issuance of the "poke," the team patiently awaited the response, which was finally received and decoded by March 10.

Armed with this unprecedented readout, the team is now meticulously comparing it against previous data to identify discrepancies that might illuminate the root cause of the ongoing issue. This comparative analysis is expected to lay the groundwork for developing a viable solution, although the intricate nature of this challenge means that resolving the anomaly will require patience and ingenuity.

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Engineers Working to Resolve Issue With Voyager 1 Computer
Pasadena CA (JPL) Dec 13, 2023
Engineers are working to resolve an issue with one of Voyager 1's three onboard computers, called the flight data system (FDS). The spacecraft is receiving and executing commands sent from Earth; however, the FDS is not communicating properly with one of the probe's subsystems, called the telecommunications unit (TMU). As a result, no science or engineering data is being sent back to Earth. Among other things, the FDS is designed to collect data from the science instruments as well as engineering ... read more

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