Voyager 1 puzzles NASA engineers with false telemetry data

Voyager 1 puzzles NASA engineers with false telemetry data
Voyager 1 has been in service for 45 years
Voyager 1 has been in service for 45 years
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Voyager 1 has been in service for 45 years
Voyager 1 has been in service for 45 years

The 45-year-old Voyager 1 deep space probe is showing its age as NASA engineers try to determine why it is sending back invalid telemetry data from its attitude control system as it hurtles through interstellar space, never to return.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is currently 14.5 billion miles (23.3 billion km) from Earth – a distance so great that a radio signal takes 20 hours and 33 minutes to reach it from Mission Control. Despite nearly half a century of service during which the robotic spacecraft visited Jupiter in 1979, followed by Saturn and its giant moon Titan in 1980, Voyager 1 is still functioning and sending back science instrument data.

It manages this thanks to its three plutonium-fueled Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) that are expected to continue to provide the probe with power until sometime after 2025. However, Voyager 1 and its sister craft Voyager 2 have been reconfigured occasionally to overcome power dips and malfunctions, and to make sure they continue doing useful work until the RTGs fail.

In addition, Voyager 1 has been bombarded by cosmic radiation for decades and this is taking its toll on its electronics, which is one reason why NASA engineers monitor the craft's systems so closely.

The present difficulty is with the attitude articulation and control system (AACS). Though Voyager 1 is receiving and executing commands from Earth, and is sending back data from its science instruments, the AACS, which helps to keep the probe's high-gain antenna pointed at Earth, is returning data that seems to be random or doesn't match any state that the AACS could ever be in.

According to NASA, the malfunction wasn't serious enough to trigger the onboard fault protection systems and the signal isn't losing strength, showing that the high-gain antenna is still pointing in the right direction. The team is seeking to locate the source of the problem and whether it involves any other spacecraft systems. If the source cannot be found, the alternative may be to switch to a redundant hardware system.

"A mystery like this is sort of par for the course at this stage of the Voyager mission," said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager 1 and 2 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The spacecraft are both almost 45 years old, which is far beyond what the mission planners anticipated. We’re also in interstellar space – a high-radiation environment that no spacecraft have flown in before. So there are some big challenges for the engineering team. But I think if there’s a way to solve this issue with the AACS, our team will find it."

Source: NASA

Isn't this the plot of an old Star Trek movie?
Compare this to typical consumer electronics, which fail in a fairly short time, even when not bombarded with cosmic radiation.
I know why, happy to help the ladies and gentlemen scientists here. Here is why!!

In space there is no altitude.. since you'd need a planet to measure altitude above sea level... here solved it for you! Finally that expensive education is paying off :-)
I wonder if they tried switching it off and on again?
Okay, this may seem like a dumb question, but how do they know that interstellar space is a high-radiation environment. In comparison to what we would call Solar Space, is the radiation much higher, or is it a little bit, and how is that measured? Again, they state the case that no other spacecraft has ever been there before, so how do they know this? I am curious because clearly I am no scientist. Are their figures guessed? Are they accurate? If there is less 'out there' (as in planets and a star/sun) giving off radiation (as the Voyager probes are not in this solar system any more) then, what creates that increased radiation playing havoc with its internals?
I think ET has it and is messing with us.
But what if the telemetry data isn't false......
Cosmic radiation ..AACS.. switch to alternative systems .. 45 years old ! If a problem exists I suspect the project teams impatient ?
Voyager one discovered field fluctuations in our solar system, this presented a Field state with small numbers of atoms ?
To this date that has not been resolved? Now in interstellar space Voyager one has A strong probability to have entered a equilibrium cosmic particle Field to shape galactic snowflakes ?
nursery field of snowflakes
Yes, proof that Vger is under new management.
The lovely Persis bot should be showing up any time now.