At the same time, its “twin” works properly
The Voyager 1 spacecraft launched in 1977. And while it’s still working properly, the scientists working on this mission recently noticed that it appears to be confused about its location in space, not going into safe mode or sounding alarms.
Such a puzzle at this stage of the Voyager mission is “a bit of a common occurrence,” said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager 1 and its “twin” Voyager 2.
“ The age of both spacecraft is almost 45 years, which is much more than the mission planners expected ,” added Dodd. “ In addition, they are in interstellar space – a highly radioactive environment in which spacecraft have not flown before . ”
The failure is related to Voyager 1’s Articulation and Attitude Control System, or AACS, which keeps the spacecraft and its antenna in the correct orientation.
And AACS appears to be working fine as the spacecraft receives commands, executes them, and sends data back to Earth at the same signal strength as usual.
However, AACS is sending incorrect telemetry data to spacecraft handlers. The NASA statement did not specify when the problems began or how long they have continued.
The agency says Voyager personnel will continue to investigate the problem and try to either fix it or adapt to it. This is a slow process, as the signal from Earth currently reaches Voyager 1 in 20 hours and 33 minutes.