NASA engineers fixed a May bug in Voyager-1 that caused the AACS, the system that manages the probe’s location and directs the antenna back to Earth, to send meaningless data about its condition and operations. Despite this strange phenomenon, the human body currently traveling away from Earth was able to communicate and collect scientific data as intended.
The team working on the problem discovered that the cause of the error was that the AACS system began sending telemetry data to a non-functioning onboard computer years ago, hence the erroneous data. Experts don’t know why AACS turned out to be the wrong computer, but the error was corrected when the system was instructed to send data to the onboard computer.
Voyager-1 lies 23.4 billion kilometers from Earth, and its partner, Voyager-2, has been exploring the solar system for 45 years, crossing the border a decade ago. Over the years, the subsystems and scientific instruments on board Voyager-1 have been decommissioned. If there is no major breakdown by then, it is expected to stop permanently around 2025 due to the half-life of the onboard plutonium-containing power source.
NASA is currently working on reading the entire telemetry memory. Voyager-1 signals reach ground control in about twenty and a half hours.
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