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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday September 30 2020, @10:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the to-infinity-and-beyond! dept.

5 NASA Spacecraft That Are Leaving Our Solar System for Good:

For millennia, humans have gazed up at the stars and wondered what it would be like to journey to them. And while sending astronauts beyond the solar system remains a distant dream, humanity has already launched five robotic probes that are on paths to interstellar space.

Each of these craft was primarily designed to explore worlds in the outer solar system. But when they finished their jobs, their momentum continued to carry them farther from the Sun. Astronomers knew their ultimate fate was to live among the distant stars. And that's why all but one of these spacecraft carries a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find it along the way.

They are:

  • Pioneer 10
  • Pioneer 11
  • Voyager 1
  • Voyager 2
  • New Horizons

Original Submission

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: 3, Funny) by MostCynical on Wednesday September 30 2020, @10:37AM (2 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday September 30 2020, @10:37AM (#1058987) Journal

    we saw how this ends [fandom.com]

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @03:07PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @03:07PM (#1059056)

      I should have checked your link before posting my comment about V'ger.

      In William Shatner's non-canon novels [fandom.com], V'ger is also the origin of the Borg.

      I'll pose this question. If the Borg encountered early 21st century humanity, would they deem us unworthy of assimilation [fandom.com] as they did with the Kazon?

      Perhaps the clusterfuck that is 21st century human society may have ancillary benefits. Possible extraterrestrial invaders might deem that we are not worth the time or resources required to conquer us.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @03:50PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @03:50PM (#1059075)

        (Dalek voice) Exterminate!...Exterminate!...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @12:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @12:47PM (#1059014)

    Voyager 1’s course could take it close to another star in some 40,000 years, while Voyager 2 won’t get close to another star for some 300,000 years, according to NASA.

    Assuming we have a civilisation then, let us also assume billybob is gonna sleep drive his sn of space x ute into one of the probes. Thus a mangled corpse is all will be found, probably by other earthlings.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @02:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @02:16PM (#1059042)

    Astronomers knew their ultimate fate was to live among the distant stars. And that's why all but one of these spacecraft carries a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find it along the way.

    Be careful what you wish for. This is how you get V'ger.

    Let's just hope V'ger didn't watch last night's debate. That would surely be all the evidence it needs to start removing the carbon unit infestation.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @05:52PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @05:52PM (#1059121)

    Aw, come on. It would be rather disappointing if a large number of people couldn't name those five. Maybe not get the mission numbers correct, but at least the mission names.

    Then again, I hate getting old and realizing that younger people don't care much for important things that happened during my lifetime.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @07:02PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30 2020, @07:02PM (#1059152)

    There will be a debate on whether to leave them alone or retrieve them for a museum display

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by nishi.b on Wednesday September 30 2020, @09:41PM (1 child)

    by nishi.b (4243) on Wednesday September 30 2020, @09:41PM (#1059225)

    I was disappointed not to see in the article their speed and distance relative to the sun .
    I found rough answers from wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for those interested:

    - Pioneer 10: 122 AU, 12 km/s from this graph. [wikipedia.org]
    - Pioneer 11: 104 U, 11.2 km/s
    - Voyager 1: 150 AU, 17 km/s from this graph. [wikipedia.org]
    - Voyager 2: 121 AU, 15.4 km/s
    - New Horizon 49 AU, 14 km/s from this graph [wikipedia.org]

    Finally a global trajectory of all those probes [wikimedia.org] (each dot on the line is the position at the start of each year, with the year written every 5 years).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01 2020, @02:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01 2020, @02:59AM (#1059333)

      Cool question/answer with plot here [stackexchange.com].

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