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posted by martyb on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the ping-time:-7.04E7-ms dept.

NASA has used Voyager 1's trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters in place of its attitude control thrusters. The move could extend the amount of time NASA can communicate with Voyager 1 by two to three years:

NASA scientists needed to reorient the 40-year-old Voyager 1 -- the space agency's farthest spacecraft -- so its antenna would point toward Earth, 13 billion miles away. But the "attitude control thrusters," the first option to make the spacecraft turn in space, have been wearing out.

So NASA searched for a Plan B, eventually deciding to try using four "trajectory correction maneuver" (TCM) thrusters, located on the back side of Voyager 1. But those thrusters had not been used in 37 years. NASA wasn't sure they'd work.

Tuesday, engineers fired up the thrusters and waited eagerly to find out whether the plan was successful. They got their answer 19 hours and 35 minutes later, the time it took for the results to reach Earth: The set of four thrusters worked perfectly. The spacecraft turned and the mood at NASA shifted to jubilation.

Also at Space.com.


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  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:07AM (4 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Tuesday December 05 2017, @10:07AM (#605567) Homepage
    Assuming you nkew how to use it in the first place, I reckon it should still work. However, I reckon your 1980 pocket calculator might well be suffering from solder whiskers. And if it used that rubber connector, if that's degraded there's a good chance the screen's no longer connected properly to the mobo.
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  • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:24PM (3 children)

    by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @04:24PM (#605689)

    I not only still have and often use my 1978-ish Casio calculator, but many other significantly older PC board based electronics. As a hands-on electronics hobbyist / tech (and EE) I've never seen solder whiskers, but I don't doubt their existence. From a bit of research, I gather that solder whiskers form from a fairly rare combination of factors, so are likely overall fairly rare. I've seen corrosion cause resistive shorts, usually due to condensing humidity or some kind of liquid intrusion.

    Yes, I've had to clean the rubber LCD connectors in the Casio and many other devices with LCD displays. It's generally not too difficult to do.

    • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Tuesday December 05 2017, @05:24PM (2 children)

      by Unixnut (5779) on Tuesday December 05 2017, @05:24PM (#605715)

      > As a hands-on electronics hobbyist / tech (and EE) I've never seen solder whiskers, but I don't doubt their existence.

      My understanding is that solder whiskers (I know them as "Tin whiskers") are a relatively new phenomenon, caused by the removal of lead from solder (for environmental reasons).

      So anything that is "RoHS Compliant" will basically fail due to such whiskers, while older tech that still used lead in the components and solder will last a lot longer, and will generally fail for other reasons (most usually Capacitors).

      It is pretty much impossible to find anything other than lead free solder/components nowadays (outside of aerospace/defense), so I guess we just have to resign ourselves to electronic goods having a "shelf life" (and of course, more landfill due to electronics lasting shorter).

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @08:16PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05 2017, @08:16PM (#605796)

        My understanding is that solder whiskers (I know them as "Tin whiskers") are a relatively new phenomenon, caused by the removal of lead from solder (for environmental reasons).

        Well, sortof. Tin whiskers is a very old problem discovered in early telephone systems, and the addition of lead to solder has been known to reduce (but not eliminate) the problem for a similarly long time. My impression is the physics behind this process and even the reasons why lead actually makes a difference are not very well understood.

        Lead-free solders use different methods to mitigate the problem, which seem to mostly work just fine, but we have only ~12 years of experience with RoHS. Time will tell.

        • (Score: 1) by toddestan on Friday December 08 2017, @03:04AM

          by toddestan (4982) on Friday December 08 2017, @03:04AM (#607072)

          Anecdotally, I've found a lot of the DDR2-era hardware to not be particularly long lasting. That would be about the time ROHS rolled out. By the time DDR3 came out, they must have figured it out, as I haven't seen the same problems - though that stuff is newer, of course.

          The previous generation DDR hardware seems to be more reliable, though with that stuff you have to worry about bad capacitors. Though at least that's something I've had luck repairing.