Engineers have resolved a problem that was impacting data from NASA's Voyager 1 probe. Despite working correctly, the probe's attitude articulation and control system (AACS), which maintains Voyager 1's antenna pointing toward Earth, began relaying jumbled data about its health and activities to mission controllers earlier this year. The rest of the probe looked to be in good condition as it proceeded to collect and transmit scientific data. The team has subsequently discovered the source of the jumbled data: The AACS began relaying telemetry data through an onboard computer known to have failed years before, and the computer garbled the data.
When Suzanne Dodd, Voyager's project manager, realized this was the problem, she chose a low-risk solution: instructing the AACS to continue delivering data to the correct computer. Engineers aren't sure why the AACS began transmitting telemetry data to the wrong computer, but it was most likely caused by a defective instruction sent by another onboard computer. If that's the case, it means there's a problem someplace else aboard the spaceship. The team will continue to look for the underlying problem, but they do not believe it poses a threat to Voyager 1's long-term health.
Dodd stated, "We're relieved to have the telemetry back." We'll perform a thorough memory readout on the AACS and examine everything it's done. This will assist us in attempting to identify the problem that caused the telemetry issue in the first place. So we're cautiously hopeful, but there's still work to be done.
For 45 years, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have been exploring our solar system. Both probes are currently in interstellar space, which is the region beyond the heliopause, or the Sun's bubble of energetic particles and magnetic fields.