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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.

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  • (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.

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  • (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.