Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years

06 December, 2017, 00:13 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • NASA receives transmission from a spacecraft that's 13 billion miles away from Earth

The only human-created object present in interstellar space, NASA's spacecraft Voyager 1, has been fired up for the first time in the last 37 years.

Yet Voyager 1, NASA's furthest-travelled spacecraft, has just fired up a set of thrusters that haven't been used for 37 years.

This spacecraft was sent nearly 40 years ago and, for the first time in 37 years, it has fired up its thrusters.

NASA has nailed an engine test on a spacecraft 13 billion miles away.

For this development, the Voyager team got together a group of propulsion experts in order to study the problem. Projected in September 1977, the plutonium controlled investigation confronted Jupiter and its moons in March 1979, and then glided by Saturn in November 1980, prior to making way towards northward out of the ecliptic plane, the indistinguishable Voyager 2 spacecraft made around of Jupiter and Saturn, then went on to traverse Uranus and Neptune.

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According to NASA, the test last Wednesday saw the probe fire the TCM thrusters for 10 milliseconds in a series of pulses that demonstrated that they were capable of taking over the task of attitude control. Sure, each of the four the thrusters would need to be heated individually, which would consume even more energy than they normally would.

Voyager 1, launched in 1997 to investigate the solar system and beyond is traveling at a speed of 38,000 miles per hour (relative to the sun). The "attitude control thrusters" have been in decline since 2014, and are now wasting more propellant than ever.

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all", propulsion engineer Todd Barber said.

The plan going forward is to switch to the TCM thrusters in January, it said. With this example before them, NASA laid a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2, a kind of time capsule, meant to relate a story of our world to aliens. To make the change, Voyager has to turn on one heater per thruster, which requires power - a limited resource for the aging mission.

Voyager 2 is also on course to enter interstellar space, likely within the next few years. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

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