NASA Fires Up Voyager 1's Thrusters After 37 Years

NASA Fires Up Voyager 1's Thrusters After 37 Years

NASA Fires Up Voyager 1's Thrusters After 37 Years

NASA's engineers wanted to see if the thrusters could turn Voyager 1's antenna back to Earth, which is something a different set of thrusters usually takes care of.

The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small thruster devices to move itself so it can communicate with Earth.

This spacecraft was sent nearly 40 years ago and, for the first time in 37 years, it has fired up its thrusters. Keeping a communication link open to a space probe that's now over 13 billion miles away from Earth isn't easy, and it requires precise adjustments to the spacecraft's orientation. That interest has resulted in the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, as well as the discovery of three new moons around Saturn using Earth-based instruments.

On Wednesday, the engineers "learned the TCM thrusters worked perfectly - and just as well as the attitude control thrusters", said NASA.

Still, the team though the TCM thrusters might suit their purposes, so on November 28, they chose to fire them up with 10-millisecond pulses to test if they could be a viable replacement for the almost spent thrusters. 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.

Stealth jets, other aircraft fly in US, South Korean drills
McMastersaid Saturday that the chances of war between North Korea and the United States are "increasing every day ". North Korea has warned that a "reckless" joint military drill by the US and South Korea could spark a nuclear war.

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test", Todd Barber, NASA propulsion engineer, said in the release.

Since 2014, engineers have noticed that the thrusters Voyager 1 has been using to orient the spacecraft, called "attitude control thrusters", have been degrading.

Ground controllers were seeking some solution and they made up their mind to evaluate a discrete rocket pack with four indistinguishable MR-103 "trajectory correction maneuver", or TCM, thrusters on the hind sight of the spacecraft that were utilized to coax Voyager 1 and sustain it on course during flybys prematurely in the commission.

The last time these engines were run in 1980.

The plan going forward is to switch to the thrusters in January. It adds that it might not have to do that soon, as the trusters in use on the Voyager 2 are not as "degraded" as Voyager 1's. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

Related news