Engineers for NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft are going to return the purpose to regular working circumstances after one of many spacecraft’s autonomous fault safety routines was triggered. A number of fault safety routines had been programmed into each Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 with the intention to permit the spacecraft to robotically take actions to guard themselves if probably dangerous circumstances come up.
Propelled in 1977, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are each in interstellar spaces, making them probably the most distant human-made objects within the solar system. On Saturday, Jan. 25, Voyager 2 did not execute a scheduled maneuver through which the spacecraft rotates 360 levels to be able to calibrate its onboard magnetic area instrument. Evaluation of the telemetry from the spacecraft indicated that an unexplained delay within the onboard execution of the maneuver instructions inadvertently left two techniques that devour comparatively excessive ranges of energy working on the identical time. This triggered the spacecraft to overdraw its accessible energy provide.
The fault safety software program routine was designed to handle such an occasion routinely, and by design, it seems to have turned off Voyager 2’s science devices to make up for the facility deficit. As of Jan. 28, Voyager engineers have efficiently turned off one of many excessive-energy methods and turned the science devices again on however haven’t but resumed taking knowledge. The staff is now reviewing the standing of the remainder of the spacecraft and dealing with returning it to regular operations.
Voyager’s energy provide comes from a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), which turns warmth from the decay of radioactive materials into electrical energy to energy the spacecraft. As a result of pure decay of the fabric contained in the RTG, Voyager 2’s energy price range goes down by about 4 watts per year. Last year, engineers turned off the first heater for the Voyager 2 cosmic ray subsystem instrument as a way to compensate for this energy loss, and the instrument continues to function.