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Voyager 1 Resumes Science Operations in Interstellar Space

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Voyager 1 Resumes Science Operations in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 Resumes Science Operations. NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is once again conducting normal science operations. This follows a technical issue in November 2023.

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The mission team began addressing the issue in April. They prompted Voyager 1 to start returning engineering data. This data includes information about the spacecraft’s health and status. On May 19, the team took the next crucial step. They beamed a command to Voyager 1 to resume returning science data.

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Two of the four science instruments returned to normal operations immediately. The other two instruments required additional work. Now, all four are returning usable science data.

The instruments on Voyager 1 study plasma waves, magnetic fields, and particles. Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, are unique. They are the only spacecraft to directly sample interstellar space. This region lies outside the heliosphere. The Sun’s magnetic fields and solar wind create the heliosphere, a protective bubble.

Voyager 1 Resumes Science Operations in Interstellar Space

While Voyager 1 is back to conducting science, some minor work remains. Engineers need to clean up the effects of the recent issue. They will resynchronize the timekeeping software in the spacecraft’s three onboard computers. This ensures the computers execute commands at the correct times.

The team will also maintain the digital tape recorder. This recorder stores data for the plasma wave instrument. The recorded data is sent to Earth twice per year. Most of the Voyagers’ science data is sent directly to Earth without recording.

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Currently more than 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth

Voyager 1 is currently more than 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth. Voyager 2 is more than 12 billion miles (20 billion kilometers) away. These distances make the Voyagers NASA’s longest-running and most distant spacecraft.

Both probes have been operational for nearly 47 years. They were launched in 1977 and have made historic journeys. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flew past Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew past Uranus and Neptune.

The data from these missions has revolutionized our understanding of the outer planets. Now, as they travel through interstellar space, they continue to send back valuable information. This data helps scientists learn about the conditions beyond our solar system.

The continued success of the Voyager missions is a testament to NASA’s engineering. The spacecraft were designed to last five years. Nearly five decades later, they are still making groundbreaking discoveries. Voyager 1’s return to full science operations marks another milestone in this extraordinary journey.

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Voyager 1 Resumes Science Operations in Interstellar Space

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