Space & Astronomy
Voyager 1 fires up dormant backup thrusters
By T.K. Randall
December 2, 2017 · 24 comments
Voyager 1 is the only spacecraft flying in interstellar space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA has activated the iconic interstellar probe's backup thrusters for the first time in 37 years.
Launched in 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have traveled further from the Earth than any other man-made object in history and remain operational despite 40 years of traveling through space.
Now in a renewed effort to keep Voyager 1 running for a few more years, NASA has fired up its backup thrusters for the first time since the probe flew past Saturn all the way back in 1980.
The spacecraft still uses the Deep Space Network to communicate with Earth and to receive instructions, meaning that its antenna needs to be regularly adjusted to maintain contact.
Unfortunately though, Voyager's attitude control thrusters have been wearing down over the last few years and no longer function effectively, making it difficult to point the antenna towards Earth.
The decision to use the backup thrusters instead could extend the mission by another 2 to 3 years.
"The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all," said JPL's Chris Jones.
Source: The Verge
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