About 45 years after the launch of the Voyager spacecraft, the US space agency has found a way to extend its work in outer space until 2026.
Over the past decades, the “Voyager 1” and “Voyager 2” probes, which were launched in the seventies of the last century, were able to provide important scientific information about space, as they were able to reach the farthest point that any spacecraft has reached at a distance of 12 and 14 billion miles from Earth, as they travel between stars and planets, according to a report published by the site “Business Insider“.
Linda Spilker, a Voyager project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “The scientific data provided by these spacecraft becomes more valuable the farther from the sun they are.”
“We’re interested in keeping as many science instruments working as possible for as long as possible” in space, she said.
The original Fojayer mission was launched in 1977, and it had a duration of four years to monitor information about Saturn and Jupiter, but the sensors and devices continued to work beyond expectations, as they reached Neptune and Uranus, and they are currently flying in space beyond the heliosphere.
The heliosphere is like a bubble of particles and magnetic fields that extend from the sun, and are important to Earth because they protect us from harmful cosmic radiation.
By bypassing this cover, these compounds are able to provide an unprecedented view of the characteristics, shape, and role of the solar cover in protection.
With the arrival of these vehicles into deep space, NASA scientists found themselves hungry for more knowledge, which prompted them to search for alternatives that would allow the continued operation of these spacecraft, which operate by generators that convert heat from decomposing plutonium into electricity.
To keep the electric power going, NASA engineers made adjustments by turning off non-essential tools, such as probe cameras or heating devices, in the “Fojair 1” probe.
And in the “Fojair 2” probe, engineers have reached a clever breakthrough by transferring energy between the probe’s sensor circuits.
“Tweaking the voltage to make it variable, while dangerous to instruments, is a small risk for a big reward in keeping scientific instruments running longer,” Susan Dodd, JPL’s Fogger project manager, explains in a press release.
She pointed out that the “Voyage 2” vehicle was operated in this way “for a few weeks, and this new method works so far.”
So far, NASA has not decided on the decision to stop the Fojayer vehicles, but it may discuss this matter next year.
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