What happened with Voyager over the past 42 years in space?

There is a perception that the probes Voyager — the best that were made by the representatives of our species. The voyagers left Earth from Cape Canaveral in 1977. Since then, the spacecraft gave scientists a huge amount of data about the Solar system. Thanks to Voyager we know so much. In December 2018, the probe Voyager 2 out into interstellar space. But despite the fact that both spacecraft are still sending us data, equipment Voyagers of aging and communication with them may be interrupted at any moment.

The Mission Voyager

During the arms race between the USSR and the USA, each party strove to overtake another. In the 1970s, the era of robotic spacecraft. The first automatic interplanetary station “Luna-16” was launched by the USSR in September 1970. The spacecraft successfully reached the moon and returned to Earth, bringing scientists the lunar soil.

The NASA response was not long in coming. In 1972, the space soared “pioneer 10” is the first device that need to be managed. The “pioneer” reached Jupiter and photographed a gas giant. Five years later went into space robotic spacecraft Voyager with a gold plate attached to the housing.

It looks like gold plate Voyager

Each of the plates, according to the idea of a prominent astrophysicist and science popularizer Carl Sagan, the Phonographic way of recorded information about our civilization. This is done in case on the way Voyager will meet intelligent life forms.

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What happens with Voyager today?

Initially, the aim of the Voyagers was to study Jupiter and Saturn. As a result, the spacecraft sent back data about four planets and their satellites. For 42 years the Voyagers are moving away from the Earth. But even beyond the heliosphere probes continue to transmit new data scientists.

However, the equipment is aging. As a result, each day could be the last Voyagers. This is because the engines of the machines wear out, and the generators produce approximately 40% less electricity than at the start.

Rescue mission “Voyagers”

Voyager in person

In July of this year NASA has developed a program to maintain probes. To support the Voyager on the go, scientists have to make difficult decisions. Using radio waves, they transmit the apparatus of the different teams. So, Voyager 2 received instructions to switch to backup enginesthat the probe is not used since 1989. Engines help the Voyager is in a steady state, and those who used the probe gradually failed.

Idle the engines of the Voyager can lead to the fact that the device will not be able to keep the antenna towards the Earth. And this is the only point of contact between the probe and us. Voyager 1 also went to work spare engines last year.

However, the engines aren’t the only problem. For devices installed heaters, through which the probe does not freeze in outer space. But recently, engineers have turned off the heaters Voyager-2. The decision was made after much deliberation — off of the heaters will allow the probe to economize energy. The trip was made after the information that Voyager left the Solar system confirmed.

A possible reason for the current difficulties is the fact that in 1977 no one thought about interstellar travel. NASA engineers were focused on the study of the planets of the Solar system. Both devices simultaneously reached Jupiter after Voyager 1 went on to Saturn and its satellites. Most scholars interested in the Titan. It was planned that if for some reason, Voyager-1 will not collect sufficient amount of data, followed by direct Voyager 2. When both probe successfully coped with the task, they went to Uranus and Neptune.

Soon after, the engineers thought about saving energy. The first step was to disconnect cameras as capture the scattered stars was not necessary.

On the flight of the Voyager is influenced by many factors. In 2012, after the release of the Voyager 1 spacecraft beyond the heliosphere — a kind of bubble the solar wind andenveloping our Solar system, the space environment has changed dramatically. This resulted in the shutdown of a number of instruments for their uselessness. After all, the Voyagers hunted today on cosmic rays, magnetic fields and other detectable phenomena in outer space.

And yet, sooner or later the time comes to release the Voyagers in free swimming. In the end, at some point transmitters, through which we support with the Voyager connection will fail. Or standby engines with which devices work today, too, will fail. The options can be many, but we together with engineers from NASA, we wish Voyager a good way.