Voyager 1 Is Fixed—Sort Of

Scientists bypass faulty chip to receive coherent engineering data, but more work is needed
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2024 6:15 AM CDT
Voyager 1 Is Fixed—Sort Of
This rendering provided by NASA shows Voyager 1.   (AP/NASA)

For the first time in months, NASA is receiving readable data from Voyager 1. The spacecraft exploring interstellar space at a distance of 15 billion miles sends back science and engineering data in binary code, but that code suddenly became garbled in November. NASA scientists reportedly found a malfunction in a single memory chip inside the flight data subsystem (FDS), one of three onboard computers, which packages the data into code. It's unclear why the chip failed but it means 3% of the FDS' memory is corrupted, per CNN. Scientists were able to bypass the problem by transferring code in the chip to three other locations within the FDS as no single location is large enough to hold all the data.

This required "a complicated maneuver, involving a sophisticated series of changes necessary to ensure the various components could still function together," UPI reports. NASA confirmed Monday that the fix worked and scientists had once again received readable engineering data, allowing it to check in on the health and status of Voyager 1. The science portion of the data, however, remains garbled. "During the coming weeks, the team will relocate and adjust the other affected portions of the FDS software. These include the portions that will start returning science data," NASA said. (More Voyager 1 stories.)

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