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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 18:09 IST

NASA loses contact with Voyager 1 as probe faces glitch in interstellar space

NASA says that the Voyager 1 spacecraft is receiving and executing commands sent from Earth but not returning useable data.

Voyager 1
Voyager 1 | Image:NASA
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NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has suffered another glitch during its interstellar journey. In an update released by NASA last week, the agency said that mission controllers traced a problem to one of three onboard computers. 

This computer called the Flight Data System (FDS) is used to receive and execute commands and it is not communicating properly with one of the probe’s subsystems, called the telemetry modulation unit (TMU).

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NASA says that the spacecraft is receiving and executing commands sent from Earth but not returning useable data. "It could take several weeks for engineers to develop a new plan to remedy the issue," the agency stated.

Problem-solving beyond the heliopause.

The @NASAVoyager team is investigating an issue with #Voyager1's Flight Data System. The spacecraft is receiving and executing commands sent from Earth but not returning useable data.

More on the evolving situation: https://t.co/SYuVX7lt45 pic.twitter.com/GWDFGfteQ4

— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) December 12, 2023

The FDS, as explained, collects scientific data and the health status of Voyager 1 and combines all the information into a single data 'package' which is then transmitted to Earth by the TMU.

"This past weekend the team tried to restart the FDS and return it to the state it was in before the issue began, but the spacecraft still isn’t returning useable data," NASA said.

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Launched in 1977, the Voyager 1 is currently over 24 billion km away from Earth. As a result, it takes the mission team 45 hours to get a response from Voyager 1 and determine if their command is followed.

The spacecraft faced a malfunction in May 2022 as well. This glitch stemmed from the Voyager's Attitude Articulation and Control System (ACSS) which caused the probe to send nonsense data back to Earth. The issue was resolved in August. 
 

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Published December 18th, 2023 at 18:09 IST

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