NASA's Voyager 1 Spacecraft Thrusters Work After Decades Of Being Dormant

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has fired a set of four control thrusters for the first time in 37 years, giving the long-lived probe a new way to point itself on its cruise into interstellar space 13 billion miles from Earth.

All of Voyager's thrusters were developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. On Tuesday, they were needed again and worked just fine. 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.

The Voyager missions discovered the first active volcanoes beyond Earth, at Jupiter's moon Io, and hints of a subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa.

Thanks to the successful test, Voyager will switch to the backup thrusters in January and will be able to beam data back to Earth a bit longer. Small thrusters on the spacecraft keep it the correct position ("attitude").

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test", stated JPL engineer Todd Barber, adding, "The mood was one of relief, joy, and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all", cited by Ars Technica.

The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. (It's so lonely.) Now it's almost 21 billion kilometeres from Earth.

So, to recap: these thrusters have sat in disuse since Jimmy Carter was president, they aren't designed for this sort of task, and they're a baker's dozen billion miles away.

Federal Bureau of Investigation makes arrest in disappearance of 3-year-old NC girl
Mariah's family has been cooperating with investigators and additional charges could be filed in the case, authorities said. The FBI later said the woman in the picture did not have any connection to their ongoing investigation to find Mariah.

Ever since Voyager 1-NASA's farthest spacecraft- was launched, it has relied on its primary thrusters, called "attitude control thrusters".

Known as the Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM), these thrusters were last used in 1980 when the probe was flying towards the outer reaches of the solar system, passing by planets like Jupiter, Saturn and their moons. They have been dormant since then.

The engineers tested their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses, which enabled the signals from the spacecraft reach an antenna in Goldstone, California, in about 19 hours and 35 minutes on Wednesday.

This week, the scientists and engineers on the Voyager team did something very special.

The research team worked up the set of TCM thrusters on November 28, to test their capability to maneuver the spacecraft with pulses that lasted for 10 milliseconds.

"The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters", the chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Chris Jones, said. They will likely also conduct similar tests on the backup thrusters on Voyager 2.

Related Articles

  • Unemployment rate rises slightly in province

    Unemployment rate rises slightly in province

    November's unemployment rate was the lowest November unemployment rate since comparable statistics started being recorded in 2001. The increase in real gross domestic product was driven by a four per cent expansion, at an annual rate, in household spending.
    Batman Ninja Is The DC Anime Film You've Been Waiting For

    Batman Ninja Is The DC Anime Film You've Been Waiting For

    With only his shōgun batsuit and physical strength, Batman will become the ninja-samurai he always has been, katana and all. And I love how Japan apparently sees Batman: as an unstoppable flood of psychedelic, freaky villains and mythic characters.
    Deaths reported in Taliban attack on college in Pakistan

    Deaths reported in Taliban attack on college in Pakistan

    A heavy contingent of police, Frontier Constabulary (FC) and army surrounded the campus before launching the operation. It was not immediately clear how many people were wounded, with reports varying from at least five to 11 people.
  • Redmond reveals what went on with him and Pep Guardiola

    Redmond reveals what went on with him and Pep Guardiola

    Guardiola insisted that his aggression was as a result of Southampton's time-wasting. What I said is what I said and what Nathan said in his statement.
    Missing Columbia County teen found in upstate NY

    Missing Columbia County teen found in upstate NY

    In addition, Frasina's parents discovered sexual messages on Snapchat between her and Rodriguez after her disappearance. They were also spotted early Sunday evening at a pawn shop in Fayetteville, Hunter said.
    Jimbo Fisher to Aggieland: How did the deal happen?

    Jimbo Fisher to Aggieland: How did the deal happen?

    How much cash will they have if Fisher delivers teams at A&M like he had at Florida State? We play Texas A&M the next two years. Fisher came to Florida State as offensive coordinator in 2007 and was named the head coach in waiting following that season.
  • Bjorn Borg inspires Jose Mourinho's pursuit of Manchester City

    Bjorn Borg inspires Jose Mourinho's pursuit of Manchester City

    It was then suggested to him that he was like McEnroe and Wenger like Borg, to which Mourinho replied with a smile: "No". Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marouane Fellaini will miss Manchester United's trip to Arsenal due to injury.
    Yemen Houthis rally in show of force after deadly clashes

    Yemen Houthis rally in show of force after deadly clashes

    A source in Saleh's forces said Houthi fighters were positioned around the residences of two of the ex-president's nephews. He fought six wars against the Huthis when he was president, but joined forces with them to take over the capital in 2014.
    Emperor Akihito will become first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years

    Emperor Akihito will become first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years

    Japan's parliament enacted in June a law to allow the emperor to pass the Chrysanthemum throne on to his 57-year-old elder son. Naruhito's daughter, Princess Aiko, who turns 16 on Friday, can not inherit the males-only throne.
  • Josh McDaniels gets an earful from Tom Brady on sideline

    Josh McDaniels gets an earful from Tom Brady on sideline

    One positive from the first half has been the play of former Bill Eric Lee , who seems to be flourishing in his new haunts. Defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Adolphus Washington each sacked Brady in the red zone to force field goals.
    This weekend: Supermoon. Coming soon: Blue moon

    This weekend: Supermoon. Coming soon: Blue moon

    This Sunday's supermoon will appear a little tiresome in comparison, only appearing seven percent larger and 16 percent brighter. This optical illusion also occurs when watching the supermoon immediately after sunset (or before sunrise).
    Police find nail bomb at Christmas market in Germany's Potsdam

    Police find nail bomb at Christmas market in Germany's Potsdam

    Police described the contents of the package as a "cylindrical object with cables, batteries and nails", but no triggering device. Germany is on high alert for potential terrorist attacks after last year's deadly attack on a Christmas market in Berlin .