Nearly 45 years after the launch of the Voyager spacecraft, the US space agency has found a way to extend its mission in space until 2026.
In the past decades, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, launched in the seventies of the last century, were able to provide important scientific information about space. As it travels between stars and planets between 12 and 14 billion miles from Earth, the site reports that “Business Insider“.
“The science data these spacecraft provide becomes more valuable the farther they are from the Sun,” said Linda Spilker, Voyager project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“We’re interested in getting as many scientific instruments working in space as possible,” he said.
The original Foyer mission began in 1977 and took four years to track data on Saturn and Jupiter, but the sensors and instruments have continued to work better than expected since they reached Neptune and Uranus, which are currently flying in space. Beyond the Heliosphere.
The heliosphere is like a bubble of particles and magnetic fields emanating from the Sun, and they are important to Earth because they protect us from harmful cosmic radiation.
By bypassing this cover, these compounds can provide unprecedented insight into the properties, shape, and role of the solar sheath in protection.
Once these vehicles arrived in deep space, NASA scientists found themselves hungry for more knowledge, prompting them to look for alternatives that would allow continuous operation of these spacecraft, powered by generators that convert heat from the decay of plutonium into electricity.
To keep power running, NASA engineers made adjustments to the “Foyer 1” probe by turning off non-essential equipment such as probe cameras or heating devices.
And in the “Foyer 2” probe, engineers made a clever breakthrough by transferring energy between the probe’s sensor circuits.
“Changing the voltage, while dangerous to the instruments, is a small risk for a large reward in operating science instruments for long periods of time,” explains Susan Dodd, JBL’s Fogger program manager, in a press release.
He pointed out that the Voyage 2 vehicle “has been operated this way for a few weeks, and this new method is working so far.”
So far, NASA has not decided on a decision to retire the Foyer vehicles, but it may discuss it next year.
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