May 30, 2024

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NASA Relief: 46-year-old Voyager 1 space probe no longer delivers gibberish to Earth

NASA Relief: 46-year-old Voyager 1 space probe no longer delivers gibberish to Earth

In November last year, Voyager 1 began sending incomprehensible information to Earth. The binary code (the string of zeros and ones that it uses to communicate with Earth) no longer makes sense. Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) tried to figure out what was happening. This took several months of “creative detective work.”

In March, the Voyager team sent a digital “poke” to Voyager 1. The flight data tracking system returned a complete readout of its memory. Based on this, the engineers saw that there was corrupted code on the chip. This prevented Voyager 1 from being able to properly “package” its scientific and technical data before sending it to Earth.

Obviously, fixing or fixing a chip with broken code is not possible. So the engineers decided to move the broken code to another place in memory. This is easier said than done, because the technology used on Voyager 1 is very old.

On April 18, engineers from Earth sent a “fix”. And then it was two days of nail-biting. After all, it takes 22.5 hours for Voyager to reach you, and then another 22.5 hours for Voyager to send a response.

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