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Voyager 1's Data Transmission Issue Traced to Memory Corruption, Fix in Progress
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Voyager 1's Data Transmission Issue Traced to Memory Corruption, Fix in Progress
by Clarence Oxford
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 FDS's memory, encompassing both its software code and variable data. This probe revealed a corruption affecting roughly 3% of the FDS memory, disrupting its routine functionalities.

Investigations point to a malfunctioning memory chip, speculated to have been compromised either by cosmic particles or simple wear and tear after 46 years in space, though the exact cause remains elusive.

Despite the challenge, the engineering team remains hopeful about devising a workaround that bypasses the faulty memory segment, potentially restoring Voyager 1's capacity to send back valuable science and engineering data to Earth. The solution, however, is expected to demand considerable time for implementation.

Voyager 1, alongside its sibling Voyager 2, was launched in 1977, embarking on a historic journey that took them past Jupiter and Saturn, with Voyager 2 also visiting Uranus and Neptune. Presently, both are voyaging through interstellar space beyond the heliosphere, with Voyager 2 still in normal operational status.

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