NASA Engineers Fix Glitch On Voyager 2 Spacecraft From 11.5 Billion Miles Away!

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An artist's illustration of the Voyager 2 probe, which has been exploring space for over 40 years (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In what can only be described as an extraordinary engineering feat, NASA scientists have remotely fixed a software glitch on the Voyager 2 probe, which lies 11.5 billion miles away at the edge of a transitional region of space. Known as the heliosphere, it is a vast, bubble-like area that surrounds the Sun and the Solar System.

The first indication that something was wrong with Voyager 2 came on January 25th, 2020, when the spacecraft failed to rotate 360 degrees to calibrate its magnetic field instruments. Though the unsuccessful attempt caused Voyager 2's science instruments to shut down, the spacecraft did not lose contact with the mission engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

An investigation revealed that the missed maneuver had resulted in two high-power systems operating at the same time. The surge in power usage caused the spacecraft, which has a finite energy supply from a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), to switch to conservation mode by shutting down all non-essential operations. NASA explains, "Multiple fault protection routines were programmed into both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in order to allow the spacecraft to automatically take actions to protect themselves if potentially harmful circumstances arise. "

The Voyager twin probes have surpassed all of the scientist's expectations (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Once the problem had been identified, the Voyager team began the arduous process of resetting the systems to restart the shuttle. Given that it takes 17 hours to send information from Earth to the shuttle and another 17 hours to find out if a command did what it was supposed to do, the process can be both tedious and stressful for the engineers. Fortunately, NASA scientists are no strangers to remote fixes, even ones that are billions of miles away, and by February 7, 2020, Voyager 2 was fully functioning again.

A press release by the US Space Agency explains, "Mission operators report that Voyager 2 continues to be stable and that communications between Earth and the spacecraft are good. The spacecraft has resumed taking science data, and the science teams are now evaluating the health of the instruments following their brief shutoff."

An artist's illustration of the Voyager twin probes in interstellar space (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecrafts were launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1977, to conduct close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn, Saturn's rings, and the the two planets' larger moons. After successfully completing their original mission, the twin spacecraft, which had been built to last just five years, went on to conduct additional flybys of the two outermost giant planets, Uranus and Neptune. Since neither spacecraft was showing any signs of fatigue, NASA engineers decided to extend the mission further by using remote-controlled reprogramming to equip the Voyager twins with more capabilities than they possessed when they left the Earth. Over the past four decades, the two spacecraft have sent back information on all the giant outer planets of our Solar System, 48 of their moons, and the unique systems of rings and magnetic fields those planets possess.

And they are not done yet! In August 2012, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space, or the space between stars. Voyager 2, which is on a different trajectory, followed six years later, joining its twin in November 2018. Both probes have since been sending NASA scientists invaluable data on our Sun and solar winds, as well as the electrically-charged hazes, or plasmas, which fill both interstellar space and the Solar System's farthest outskirts.

Resources: Bgr.com, ZMEscience.com,voyager.jpl.nasa.gov,,www.extremetech.com

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116 Comments
  • cloudstar_360
    cloudstar_360Friday, March 6, 2020 at 1:08 pm
    Space is sooooooo creepy! I actually have a phobia of space, but I don't know what it is called.🌏 🌎 🌍 🙅 🇱🇷
    • kuhodica-157193522338
      kuhodica-157193522338Monday, April 20, 2020 at 7:59 am
      this might sound late but your fear is called Astrophobia
    • texasrocks88
      texasrocks88Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 3:57 pm
      I love NASA!!!!!!
      • agentpelly
        agentpellyThursday, March 5, 2020 at 7:39 am
        i need this for a presantastion for school 🌭
        • littledevil1234
          littledevil1234Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm
          This is so helpful! I love space!
          • thesith12345
            thesith12345Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 1:44 pm
            Its so cool
            • gykatyvi-158041158203
              gykatyvi-158041158203Monday, March 2, 2020 at 8:50 am
              5 billion years later......technology outlived us all
              • gamerboy703
                gamerboy703Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 1:51 pm
                No, we will learn new weapons to defeat the rouge tech.
              • tinydancer1122
                tinydancer1122Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 6:11 pm
                Their tech is like THE tech. The FUTURE....... So this is getting me more excited about space. I had an 👽 project and I was not happy with my alien but this gives me ideas fo r if I have another one!
                • unityanglezzyt
                  unityanglezzytFriday, February 28, 2020 at 10:28 am
                  Like if youre using this for a current event thing.
                  • squidaii
                    squidaiiWednesday, February 26, 2020 at 7:44 pm
                    So CoOL
                    • master_expert
                      master_expertWednesday, February 26, 2020 at 5:11 pm
                      I am using this for my current events last minute!!!😅😅 THANKS TO THIS ARTICLE I CAN GET AN A++🙌👌😂