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NASA's Voyager 1 phones home after months
NASA's Voyager 1 phones home after months
by AFP Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 22, 2024

NASA's Voyager 1 probe -- the most distant man-made object in the universe -- is returning usable information to ground control following months of spouting gibberish, the US space agency announced Monday.

The spaceship stopped sending readable data back to Earth on November 14, 2023, even though controllers could tell it was still receiving their commands.

In March, teams working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory discovered that a single malfunctioning chip was to blame, and devised a clever coding fix that worked within the tight memory constraints of its 46-year-old computer system.

"Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems," the agency said.

"The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again."

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 was mankind's first spacecraft to enter the interstellar medium, in 2012, and is currently more than 15 billion miles from Earth. Messages sent from Earth take about 22.5 hours to reach the spacecraft.

Its twin, Voyager 2, also left the solar system in 2018.

Both Voyager spacecraft carry "Golden Records" -- 12-inch, gold-plated copper disks intended to convey the story of our world to extraterrestrials.

These include a map of our solar system, a piece of uranium that serves as a radioactive clock allowing recipients to date the spaceship's launch, and symbolic instructions that convey how to play the record.

The contents of the record, selected for NASA by a committee chaired by legendary astronomer Carl Sagan, include encoded images of life on Earth, as well as music and sounds that can be played using an included stylus.

Their power banks are expected to be depleted sometime after 2025. They will then continue to wander the Milky Way, potentially for eternity, in silence.

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Voyager 1's Data Transmission Issue Traced to Memory Corruption, Fix in Progress
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 05, 2024
After months of receiving gibberish data from Voyager 1, NASA engineers have isolated the problem to a corrupted memory segment in the spacecraft's computer. The anomaly, affecting the flight data subsystem (FDS)-integral for preparing the spacecraft's science and engineering data for Earth transmission-has hindered readable data transmissions since November last year. In a diagnostic move, engineers dispatched a "poke" command in early March, compelling the spacecraft to return a snapshot of the ... read more

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