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Space & Astronomy

Voyager 2 is back online after power glitch

By T.K. Randall
February 3, 2020 · Comment icon 9 comments

The Voyager probes have left the solar system. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The long-lived spacecraft went into fault protection mode last week after unexpectedly drawing too much power.
Currently situated a whopping 11.5 billion miles from Earth, Voyager 2 is now so far away that diagnosing and repairing any fault remotely has become a major challenge.

Whenever a command is issued, it takes a whole 34 hours for engineers to receive a response.

This was the reality faced by NASA recently when the spacecraft went into fault protection mode after inadvertently drawing too much power due to two major systems running at the same time.

The probe is powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators which have been slowly running down over the last few decades. If the power drops too low, the spacecraft will not have enough to keep its vital systems working, resulting in vital fuel lines freezing and breaking.
If that happened, it would no longer be possible to communicate and the mission would be over.

Fortunately in this case however NASA engineers were able to successfully shut down the system that was drawing too much power and the probe's science instruments have since been re-enabled.

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 fully operational despite 40 years of traveling through space.

Their original mission to visit the four gas giants was made possible by a rare planetary configuration that happens only once every 175 years - an opportunity that NASA couldn't afford to miss.

The fact that both probes have kept going for so long is nothing if not remarkable.

Source: Universe Today | Comments (9)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
I hope they both last a lot longer, but, I guess we should expect issues to arise. 40 years is amazing!
Comment icon #2 Posted by ChrLzs 4 years ago
What absolutely remarkable spacecraft these were, and are.† That era (late 60's and 70's)†was the pinnacle of pioneering science and engineering, imo. †
Comment icon #3 Posted by RoofGardener 4 years ago
Just amazing, and inspirational.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Crikey 4 years ago
What's Voyager 2's purpose now that it's in interstellar space? I mean, there's nothing to see out there is there, so why are NASA communicating with it?
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
Just because there† is nothing to see it doesn't mean that there is nothing to measure.† Interstellar space is not empty. It is teeming with particles from the stars. These can not be measured from within the solar system's bow shock because the solar wind deflects them and overwhelms them. The Voyagers carry more than just cameras, they carried instruments to make all sorts of measurements, including charged particles. Both Voyagers are returning useful data to NASA that no other spacecraft could collect.† All the time the Voyagers are still making useful scientific observations why wouldn't ... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
These spacecraft where made sturdy and show the great use of a nuclear power source.
Comment icon #7 Posted by NCC1701 4 years ago
I've got an LED alarm clock i bought in 1975. It is also still going after all these years.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
And that is relevant how exactly?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Brassboy86 4 years ago
It was made in the same era, I think was his line of thought.†

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