Home / Funny / Viral / NASA Voyager 1 Makes Continues Contact With Earth From 15 Billion Miles Away


Voyager 1 has been exploring the edges of our universe since 1977. NASA launched the craft in 1980 with the goal of learning more; in 1990, it took a "solar system family portrait," and in 2004, it passed through the "termination shock." According to NASA, the spacecraft's historic journey has produced many firsts, including its designation as the first artificial object to enter interstellar space in 2012. However, the spacecraft stopped sending regular data back to Earth in November 2023, which sparked a rush to address the problem. NASA engineers quickly changed the computer code, and the spacecraft is now sending its engineering reports back to Earth. This was announced by NASA in April 2024.

NASA was still able to determine that the craft was in orbit and obeying its commands when the regular communications stopped in November. But the craft's goal of enlightening humanity would be impossible to achieve if it didn't return data to Earth. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California identified the problem in the flight data subsystem (FDS), one of the craft's computers, and fixed it. Data is assembled by this computer and sent to Earth. The problem was with one chip in the computer, so the code it once held had to be redistributed. The code from Earth was impressively broken up into smaller pieces and inserted into other chips. They diverted other codes to the new locations in the interim.

The first set of data returned to Earth by the reestablished communication was received on April 20. From Voyager 1's current position, this radio communication would have travelled 15 billion miles. As per JPL, "they have been able to check the health and status of the spacecraft for the first time in five months." To compensate for the malfunctioning chip and enable scientists on Earth to receive the scientific data that Voyager 1 gathers, some code still needs to be modified. The fact that Voyager 1 (and its twin Voyager 2's) computers were built before the 1977 launch and are still operational, however, makes them already remarkable feats of computer engineering. 

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