9 May 2010

Voyager 2 Suffers Slight Technical Hitch

It has taken quite a while, but at some point something like this was bound to happen.  NASA is not able at the moment to interpret the data transmissions from Voyager 2.

Fortunately, the control systems are not affected so NASA engineers should be able to fix the problem.  There is one slight disadvantage however – it takes thirteen hours for a transmission from earth to reach Voyager (and of course the same amount back).

While Voyager traverses the edge of the solar system, data has been coming through with improper formatting since the latter part of April.  With engineering data still being read properly it is hoped that the fix can be introduced and implemented – albeit very, very slowly.

It is thought that the memory that stores the data before transmitting it back to earth has gone awry – something familiar to anyone who has ever used a floppy disk or a USB.  What has to be remembered, effectively, is this is 1970s technology which is still, to a greater extent, working. 

Voyager 2 is about three billion kilometers behind its twin probe, the original Voyager 1.

They are both nearing the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space and may well be in for a bumpy ride over the next few years.

However, it is hoped that they will send NASA data from outside the solar system within two years – a first for humanity.