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posted by martyb on Friday November 14 2014, @01:55PM   Printer-friendly

The journal Nature has a story on new information obtained by re-processing Voyager2 data.

Erich Karkoschka, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, chased down the new detail by comparing 1,600 images taken by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft during a flyby in 1986. “To me it felt like there was a new space mission to Uranus,” he said. “I applied new image-processing techniques so I could see features that other people couldn't see.”

This reprocessing has uncovered an unusual and unexpected rotational pattern in the atmosphere, which could give clues on the internal structure of the planet.

The story is also covered at Universe Today, and University of Arizona News.

There is a vast amount of raw data publicly available from NASA's National Space Science Data Center, and from the UAnews link:

Karkoschka's work illustrates the scientific value that can be gleaned from data that have been around for a long time, available to anyone with Internet access. He had similar success when he investigated 13-year-old Voyager images of Uranus’ surroundings and discovered the satellite Perdita.

Related Stories

Humanity's Most Distant Space Probe Jeopardized by Computer Glitch 14 comments

https://arstechnica.com/space/2024/02/humanitys-most-distant-space-probe-jeopardized-by-computer-glitch/

Voyager 1 is still alive out there, barreling into the cosmos more than 15 billion miles away. However, a computer problem has kept the mission's loyal support team in Southern California from knowing much more about the status of one of NASA's longest-lived spacecraft.

The computer glitch cropped up on November 14, and it affected Voyager 1's ability to send back telemetry data, such as measurements from the spacecraft's science instruments or basic engineering information about how the probe was doing. [...] "It would be the biggest miracle if we get it back. We certainly haven't given up," said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in an interview with Ars. "There are other things we can try. But this is, by far, the most serious since I've been project manager."

Dodd became the project manager for NASA's Voyager mission in 2010, overseeing a small cadre of engineers responsible for humanity's exploration into interstellar space. Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft ever, speeding away from the Sun at 38,000 mph (17 kilometers per second). [...] The latest problem with Voyager 1 lies in the probe's Flight Data Subsystem (FDS), one of three computers on the spacecraft working alongside a command-and-control central computer and another device overseeing attitude control and pointing. [...] In November, the data packages transmitted by Voyager 1 manifested a repeating pattern of ones and zeros as if it were stuck, according to NASA. Dodd said engineers at JPL have spent the better part of three months trying to diagnose the cause of the problem. She said the engineering team is "99.9 percent sure" the problem originated in the FDS, which appears to be having trouble "frame syncing" data. [...] "It's likely somewhere in the FDS memory," Dodd said. "A bit got flipped or corrupted. But without the telemetry, we can't see where that FDS memory corruption is."

[...] "We have sheets and sheets of schematics that are paper, that are all yellowed on the corners, and all signed in 1974," Dodd said. "They're pinned up on the walls and people are looking at them. That's a whole story in itself, just how to get to the information you need to be able to talk about the commanding decisions or what the problem might be." [...] "It is difficult to command Voyager," Dodd said. "We don't have any type of simulator for this. We don't have any hardware simulator. We don't have any software simulator... There's no simulator with the FDS, no hardware where we can try it on the ground first before we send it. So that makes people more cautious, and it's a balance between getting commanding right and taking risks."

[...] The spacecraft's vast distance and position in the southern sky require NASA to use the largest 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at a Deep Space Network tracking site in Australia, one of the network's most in-demand antennas.

"The data rates are very low, and this anomaly causes us not to have any telemetry," Dodd said. "We're kind of shooting in the blind a little bit because we don't know what the status of the spacecraft is completely."

Previously on SoylentNews:
Engineers Work to Fix Voyager 1 Computer - 20231215

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  • (Score: 1) by GoonDu on Friday November 14 2014, @02:06PM

    by GoonDu (2623) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:06PM (#115897)

    >To me it felt like there was a new space mission to Ur anus,” he said. “I applied new image-processing techniques so I could see features that other people couldn't see.”
    I'm sorry.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:28PM (#115906)

      The Internets has been corrupted by YOU!
      When I was young, when SN was still called SD I could have clicked any link and found a welcoming overstretched anus.
      Go tweet of my lawn!

    • (Score: 2) by jcross on Friday November 14 2014, @02:49PM

      by jcross (4009) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:49PM (#115917)

      "The work might help reveal more about the mysterious interior of Ur anus"

      I too am sorry.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:38PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:38PM (#115924)

        Guys, stop looking at Ur anus.
        I'm sorry for you guys.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday November 14 2014, @05:22PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Friday November 14 2014, @05:22PM (#115959)

      They really should change the name to "Ouranos", pronounced "ooh-rah-nohs", which is a more correct transliteration of the original Greek and gets rid of that stupid joke once and for all (in a way that "Urectum" obviously wouldn't).

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 2) by Foobar Bazbot on Friday November 14 2014, @08:44PM

      by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Friday November 14 2014, @08:44PM (#116038) Journal

      ... investigated a 13-year-old voyeur's images of Ur anus’ surroundings ...

      I cannot confirm or deny being sorry.

  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Friday November 14 2014, @02:18PM

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Friday November 14 2014, @02:18PM (#115900) Homepage
    In the uanews vid, why do all the patterns in the clouds all move at exactly the same rotational speed? Thats not how planetary fluid dynamics works. There should be bands, stationary regions, and even counter-rotating eddies. Seems more like an "artist's impression" than anything corresponding to reality.
    --
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Covalent on Friday November 14 2014, @04:58PM

    by Covalent (43) on Friday November 14 2014, @04:58PM (#115952) Journal

    ... information wants to be FREE!

    Seriously, there are no copyright issues here...there's no intellectual property of any value...the scientists who worked on this mission are long since retired (or dead). The flyby was in 1986! Kudos to NASA for releasing the data, but it's 20 years too late.

    The real place I think this issue matters is with the data from drug trials. Those should be opened up after some reasonable (short) period of time. I think the nerd community (I'm looking at you, soylentils) might find many flaws before innocent people have to die. Probably won't happen because of some IP BS argument, but if government money funded any part of the drug, the data should be liberated eventually.

    --
    You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hubie on Friday November 14 2014, @08:34PM

      by hubie (1068) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @08:34PM (#116036) Journal

      but it's 20 years too late.

      It isn't 20 years too late. I don't know exactly what data set he used, but most spacecraft data are put up on NSSDC in a pretty timely manner. If you can't download it from the web site, there are other ways to get the data.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15 2014, @11:39AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15 2014, @11:39AM (#116174)

    I am not natively English speaking, so sometimes I wonder will all these "7th planet jokes" hinder the future of space exploration.

    Uranus is the perfect fueling point for interstellar missions. Smaller than Jupiter, further away from the gravity well of Sun. Pretty much the perfect location for a spacedock.

    Chinese call it "Sky King Star", so perhaps it is the Chinese that eventually conquer Ur anus.