NASA engineers are working diligently to keep the storied Voyager 2 spacecraft operating for as long as possible. Last week, the team sent a critical software update that will help prevent issues that have impacted its twin, Voyager 1.
The Voyagers’ Ongoing Journey into Interstellar Space
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 are the only spacecraft to have entered interstellar space. They continue to send back unique and valuable data about the environment beyond our solar system. Keeping them operational as long as possible is a top priority for NASA.
Mitigating Risks with Software Patching
Last year, Voyager 1’s attitude control system began returning anomalous data, which took months of investigation to diagnose. The cause was an incorrect operating mode, but the root cause remains unclear. To mitigate future risks, NASA has created a software patch and tested it on Voyager 2 first. The update was transmitted on Friday; full installation is expected by October 28 barring any issues. In addition, you can also read an article on- NASA Finds over 5,000 Planets Outside Our Solar System
Maintaining Contact with Humanity’s Farthest Probes
Challenges arise due to the vast distances involved. Voyager 2 is over 12 billion miles away, meaning a one-way radio transmission takes over 18 hours. Earlier this year, contact was briefly lost after a planned command sequence inadvertently moved its antenna away from Earth. Communication was restored through an “interstellar shout” allowing the groundbreaking mission to carry on.