NASA has discovered why the Voyager 1 probe was stuck for several months

After months of sending unusable data to mission control, there is finally hope for the Voyager 1 spacecraft. NASA engineers have identified the cause behind a strange mission anomaly, and they believe they can help the interstellar probe make sense again.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe the Voyager 1 spacecraft was sending meaningless data due to damage to memory devices in the spacecraft's flight data system (FDS). “The team suspects that a single chip responsible for storing part of the affected portion of FDS memory is not working,” NASA said books In the update.

The FDS collects data from Voyager's science instruments, as well as engineering data about the health of the spacecraft, and combines them into a single packet that is sent to Earth through one of the probe's subsystems, the Telemetry Modulation Unit (TMU), in binary code.

The FDS and TMU are having trouble communicating with each other. As a result, the TMU was sending data to Mission Control in a recurring pattern of ones and zeros. NASA engineers aren't entirely sure why FDS memory devices become corrupted; They believe the chip was hit by an energetic particle from space or corroded after operating for 46 years.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, less than a month after its twin probe, Voyager 2, began its own journey into space. The probe launched into interstellar space in August 2012, becoming the first spacecraft to leave the heliosphere.

The problem first began in May 2022, when the probe suddenly started transmitting Expression and control of irrational situations (AACS) statements.. Engineers solved the problem by sending telemetry data through one of the spacecraft's other computers. In December 2023, Voyager 1 started speaking gibberish again.

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On March 1, the team sent a “poke” to the spacecraft's data system, something that gently prompted FDS to try different sequences in its software package in an attempt to identify the damaged section. after two days, Voyager 1 sent a signal containing a reading of the entire FDS memorywhich helped the team identify the source of the flaw by comparing this memory read with a previous read to look for inconsistencies in the code.

“Using the reading, the team confirmed that approximately 3% of the FDS memory had become corrupted, preventing the computer from performing normal operations,” NASA wrote in its update.

Engineers hope to solve the problem by finding a way for FDS to function normally without damaged memory devices, enabling Voyager 1 to begin transmitting data about the universe and continue its journey through deep space.

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