NASA has resolved the problem with Voyager 1’s incorrect data

NASA has announced that Voyager 1’s telemetry problem has been fixed. Engineers managed to restore its AACS orientation control system to normal operation, after which it began sending correct data to Earth. However, the cause of the failure itself remains a mystery.

The Voyager as imagined by an artist. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In May 2022, Voyager 1 began transmitting incorrect telemetry to Earth. At the same time, despite the incorrect data, the AACS system continued to keep the device’s antenna pointed at Earth, which meant that it was still performing its main task.

During further investigation, mission specialists managed to identify the source of incorrect telemetry. It turned out that AACS had started transmitting data through a computer that had stopped working years ago. It was it who damaged the data. So the engineers sent Voyager 1 the command to switch AACS to the correct computer. After that, the probe began sending correct telemetry to the Earth.

Although engineers managed to get AACS working, they still haven’t found an answer to the key question: what exactly caused the system to switch to the wrong computer. The most likely explanation is that it received an incorrect command from yet another computer (in total, Voyager 1 has three computer systems installed, each redundant). Therefore, experts continue to study the data to determine the source of the failure.

The Voyager program recently celebrated its 45th anniversary. You can read the story of the epic journey of two Earth scouts, as well as the story of how ten years ago Voyager 1 managed to enter interstellar space and what the future holds for it.

Based on materials from