NASA hacks Voyager 2 to keep the 45-Year-Old probe studying interstellar spaceafter a glitch caused it to shut down unexpectedly. The spacecraft, which was launched in 1977, is one of NASA's most iconic missions, and it has been sending back valuable data about the universe for more than 45 years.
In January 2020, NASA detected a problem with Voyager 2's computer system. The spacecraft was more than 11.5 billion miles away from Earth at the time, and it takes about 17 hours for a signal to reach it. This meant that engineers had to come up with a solution remotely.
The problem was caused by a routine procedure to execute a software update. The execution of the software caused a delay in the command execution, which eventually led to the shutdown of the spacecraft's primary computer.
The Voyager 2 mission is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The engineers quickly got to work to diagnose and fix the problem. They found that the spacecraft's fault protection software had kicked in and shut down the primary computer when it detected an unexpected error.
To work around the issue, the engineers sent a series of commands to switch the spacecraft to its backup computer. This required them to write new software to send to the spacecraft, which was a challenging task given the limited resources available on the aging spacecraft.
After several months of work, the team successfully switched Voyager 2 to its backup computer, and the spacecraft resumed normal operations. NASA announced the successful recovery of the spacecraft on October 29, 2020.
The Voyager 2 mission has been a major success for NASA, providing valuable data about our solar system and the universe beyond. The spacecraft has visited all four outer planets and made the first-ever flyby of Uranus and Neptune.
Now, as the spacecraft enters interstellar space, it continues to send back data about the boundary where the solar wind meets the interstellar medium. This data is critical to understanding the behavior of magnetic fields, particles, and waves in interstellar space.
The successful recovery of the Voyager 2 spacecraft is a testament to the skill and dedication of the NASA engineers who operate the mission. The mission has provided valuable data about our solar system and the universe beyond, and it continues to do so as it explores interstellar space.
The hack to switch the spacecraft to its backup computer is a reminder that space exploration is not easy, but the rewards are significant. The data from the Voyager 2 mission has provided insights into the workings of the universe that would not have been possible without this pioneering spacecraft.