NASA Voyager 1 space probe was launched 45 years ago and continues its journey far beyond our Solar System to study the outer heliosphere and the interstellar medium. So, how far is Voyager 1 from Earth? It is has gone 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion km) away, reports Space.com. It is an iconic probe and has sent hugely important data back to NASA since launch. But now, the new strange data sent by the Voyager from the edge of the Solar System has left scientists shocked as till date there has been no significant errors reported by the probe! Since the Voyager 1 data is of critical importance, the engineering team is trying to solve the mysterious data sent by the space probe.
“The interstellar explorer is operating normally, receiving and executing commands from Earth, along with gathering and returning science data. But readouts from the probe’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) don’t reflect what’s actually happening onboard.” NASA said in a statement. But what does this data received back on earth actually mean?
NASA says an antenna attached to Voyager, which is pointed at Earth to send data back, appears to be working but is sending back invalid data. The AACS controls the 45-year-old spacecraft’s orientation. Among other tasks, it keeps Voyager 1’s high-gain antenna pointed precisely at Earth, enabling it to send data home. All signs suggest the AACS is still working, but the telemetry data it’s returning is invalid. For instance, the data may appear to be randomly generated, or does not reflect any possible state the AACS could be in.
Thankfully, the issue with the NASA Voyager 1 hasn’t triggered any onboard fault protection systems. This system is designed to keep the spacecraft in the “safe mode” which maintains a state where only essential operations are carried out, while giving engineers time to analyse and diagnose the issue. Not just that, even the signals of Voyager 1 haven’t weakened, which suggests the high-gain antenna remains in its prescribed orientation to Earth.