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Legendary Voyager 1 "called" home after 5 months of no communications

Legendary Voyager 1 "called" home after 5 months of no communications
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On April 20, the NASA spacecraft "Voyager 1", which is currently outside the Solar System, updated data on the state of its "health" and sent quite suitable information for analysis after transmitting gibberish for 5 months. This relates to information on the state of the ship's engineering systems.

"Voyager 1" was launched in 1977 and 35 years later became the first man-made object to leave the Solar System and enter interstellar space. Six years later in 2018, its space twin "Voyager 2" also crossed the boundaries of the Solar System.

Fortunately, "Voyager 2" is still operational and communicates well with Earth. However, there was a breakdown in communication with "Voyager 1" on November 14, 2023. The spacecraft began transmitting a meaningless stream of binary code. At the beginning of this year, it was believed that due to a memory error in the Flight Data System (FDS) on board, the connection with the ship was lost forever.

In March, the NASA team operators sent a digital request to the spacecraft, urging its FDS subsystem to send a full memory dump back home. This memory dump showed engineers that the "malfunction" was a result of damaged code contained on one chip, comprising about 3% of the FDS memory. The loss of this code rendered the scientific and engineering data of "Voyager 1" unusable.

Since replacing the damaged memory chip on a spacecraft located 24 billion km away from Earth is physically impossible, other solutions had to be found. The decision was made to remotely reposition the code stored in the damaged chip to other sections of the FDS memory. Since no memory section was large enough to contain this code in its entirety, the team decided to divide it into sections and store these parts separately. They also had to configure the corresponding storage sections to ensure that adding this damaged code would not lead to the cessation of the operation of these areas individually or in general. In addition, NASA employees had to update any references to the location of the damaged code.

On April 18, 2024, the team began sending the code to a new location in the FDS memory. It was a painstaking process, as it takes 22.5 hours for a radio signal to travel between Earth and "Voyager 1", and then another 22.5 hours to receive a signal from the spacecraft.

However, by Saturday, April 20, the team confirmed that their modification worked. For the first time in 5 months, scientists were able to communicate with "Voyager 1" and check its functionality. Over the next few weeks, the team will work on adjusting the rest of the FDS software and strive to restore the parts of the system responsible for packaging and returning vital scientific data from beyond the boundaries of the Solar System.

Source: space

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