Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Voyager 2 glitch

Inverse reports: [edited]

Voyager 2, currently some 11.5 billion miles from Earth, is back online and resuming its mission to collect scientific data on the solar system and the interstellar space beyond. The fix is no mean feat: It takes 17 hours for a message to reach Voyager 2 from Earth.

The spacecraft had run into trouble on January 28, when NASA revealed that it had unexpectedly — and for unknown reasons — shut down. Voyager 2 went black right before it was scheduled for a manoeuvre in which the spacecraft rotates 360 degrees in order to calibrate one of its instruments.

But the spacecraft didn't make the move. As a result, two of its systems — both of which consume a lot of power — were running at the same time. The likeliest problem was that the spacecraft was using up too much of its available power supply, which triggered protection software.

Voyager 2 is sister craft to Voyager 1. Both have been travelling through the solar system — and now beyond it — for the last four decades. Together, they have transformed our understanding of our stellar neighborhood and are already revealing unprecedented information about the interstellar space beyond the Sun's sphere of influence.

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