Voyager 1 is sending very strange data and nobody knows why

Voyager 1 is sending very strange data and nobody knows why

The NASA Voyager spacecraft have been in space for almost 45 years, religiously sending information to Earth. Their useful life is being much longer than was predicted at the time, but it is more than expected that at some point they will experience some failure. And that is precisely what seems to be happening now with the first of these ships. Recently, Voyager 1 has started firing telemetry data completely randomly. They don't make any sense, given your current location, so there must be some interference or error that is generating them.

The rest of the parameters are normal and the second Voyager ship works normally. So NASA engineers aren't too worried. They even believe that they could adapt to work taking this failure into account.

Even so, as is logical, they will first try to detect its origin and solve it. But that would be a pretty decent plan B, given how long the two Voyagers are lasting. They expect them to continue operating until at least 2025, so they would stay close to their 50th birthday. As if not to allow them a small mistake before a well-deserved retirement.

The long career of the Voyager probes

The two Voyager probes were launched into space in August and September 1977. His goal was to study Jupiter, Saturn and other planets beyond the solar system. Voyager 2 is also the only spacecraft that has explored Uranus and Neptune.

His mission was initially going to last only five years. However, her response was so good that NASA chose to lengthen it more and more. Thus, in 2013 Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.

Initially the mission of the Voyager probes was going to last only 5 years

It is currently at a distance of 23,300 million kilometers from Earth. From there, it continues to send very useful information for countless studies on space. For example, it recently helped detect oscillations in deep space plasma. All this can continue, no problem, but the best thing to do would be to solve this error for which, at the moment, scientists have no answer.

A mysterious error

telemetry data are those that allow the remote measurement of physical quantities and their subsequent sending to an operator, in this case located on Earth.

So far the telemetry data sent back by Voyager 1 seemed correct. However, lately they do not correspond to what is expected, given their position. Something is happening and it would be a fantasy to imagine some alien interference, but most likely it is simply that the probe fails because it is more than 40 years old.

It takes about two days to send a message and get a response from Voyager 1

That is why the engineers are already at work. Light takes just over 20 hours to travel the distance to which this Voyager probe is located, so it would take two days to send a message and get a response. This delay is one of the main factors that scientists trying to fix the error must take into account. In addition, they must check if this error comes directly from the attitude control and articulation system (AACS), responsible for measuring telemetry, or from some other instrument on the spacecraft. In general it seems that everything else works correctly, since the data add up, but it will be necessary to investigate it.

If they do not succeed, as explained by NASA, the key would be to continue working, taking that error into account. As if it were a small gap or nuisance that they must get used to. It's not optimal, but these two probes have already more than met what was considered optimal for them. You can make some concessions.