Voyager 1 of NASA recently returned data that was illogical. Don’t worry, it’s not an alien message. The probe’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) readouts were simply out of sync with what the spacecraft was doing. The engineering team has now determined what was going on.
As it keeps the spacecraft’s antenna pointed at Earth, the AACS is crucial. But all of the data was jumbled. We now know that this was caused by the system’s telemetry and health status being transmitted by an outdated onboard computer that hasn’t been functional in years. And that tainted the data, resulting in the perplexing data stream.
Many of the spacecraft’s instruments are no longer functional, either due to malfunction or energy conservation. The team simply instructed the AACS to deliver information to the appropriate computer after suspecting that this would be the case. The underlying problem still exists, but it works. This was brought on by something on Voyager 1. The team is searching for it, but they aren’t concerned that whatever caused it won’t be long-term hazardous to the spacecraft.
In a statement, Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager, said, “We’re glad to have the telemetry back.” We’ll perform a complete memory readout of the AACS and examine what it has been doing. That will aid us in our efforts to identify the issue that initially led to the telemetry issue. Therefore, even if we need to undertake more research, we are cautiously optimistic.
Voyager 1 has been in orbit for 45 years as of next Monday. At a distance of 23.5 billion kilometers (14.6 billion miles), it is the object built by humans that is currently the farthest from Earth.