NASA scientists successfully fired the thrusters of Voyager 1 on Wednesday after decades of inactivity.
To keep the spacecraft running, its thrusters must function properly, but the engineers were not sure if the small devices were going to work considering they had not been used since November 1980. However, almost 20 hours later After turning on the backup thrusters, the engineers received a signal from Voyager on Earth, which meant that their test was successful.
"The Voyager The team got more and more excited with each milestone in the propeller test." The mood was one of relief, joy and disbelief after witnessing how these well-rested thrusters raised their sticks as if they had not Over time, "Todd Barber, an engineer propeller at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a statement.
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From Voyager 1-NASA's furthest spacecraft launched, it's been based on its main propellers, called "boosters" attitude control ". Although the devices still work, a few years ago engineers began to notice that they were deteriorating. This finding led NASA engineers at JPL in Pasadena, California, to examine the problem. They decided on what the space agency calls an "unusual solution:" to reactivate the backup propellers.
"The Voyager flight team unearthed data from decades ago and examined the software that was encoded in an obsolete badembly language to make sure we can test the thrusters safely," said Chris Jones, JPL chief engineer. it's a statement.
Now that the four propellers have demonstrated their operation, Voyager 1 will have a longer mission.
"With these thrusters still running after 37 years of use, we can extend the life span of the Voyager 1 spacecraft in two or three years," said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at JPL.
Although the twin spacecraft Voyager 1-Voyager 2-launched just 16 days after Voyager 1, its standard propellers seem to be in better shape, wrote NASA officials. However, engineers still plan to test the backup thrusters, but note that the test is not urgent.
Both missions have provided much knowledge of outer space to Earth engineers. Some of the significant findings of the spacecraft include the identification of the first active volcanoes beyond Earth and Saturn's great moon, reports CNN.