Voyager 1: Facts about Earth's farthest spacecraft

Voyager 1 continues to explore the cosmos along with its twin probe, Voyager 2.

Artist's illustration of Voyager 1 probe looking back at the solar system from a great distance.

The Grand Tour

Voyager 1 jupiter flyby, voyager 1 visits saturn and its moons, voyager 1 enters interstellar space, voyager 1's interstellar adventures, additional resources.

Voyager 1 is the first spacecraft to travel beyond the solar system and reach interstellar space . 

The probe launched on Sept. 5, 1977 — about two weeks after its twin Voyager 2 — and as of August 2022 is approximately 14.6 billion miles (23.5 billion kilometers) away from our planet, making it Earth 's farthest spacecraft. Voyager 1 is currently zipping through space at around 38,000 mph (17 kilometers per second), according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory .

When Voyager 1 launched a mission to explore the outer planets in our solar system nobody knew how important the probe would still be 45 years later The probe has remained operational long past expectations and continues to send information about its journeys back to Earth. 

Related: Celebrate 45 years of Voyager with these amazing images of our solar system (gallery)

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for  Space.com  for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. 

Size: Voyager 1's body is about the size of a subcompact car. The boom for its magnetometer instrument extends 42.7 feet (13 meters). Weight (at launch): 1,797 pounds (815 kilograms). Launch date: Sept. 5, 1977

Jupiter flyby date: March 5, 1979

Saturn flyby date: Nov. 12, 1980.

Entered interstellar space: Aug. 25, 2012. 

The spacecraft entered interstellar space in August 2012, almost 35 years after its voyage began. The discovery wasn't made official until 2013, however, when scientists had time to review the data sent back from Voyager 1.

Voyager 1 was the second of the twin spacecraft to launch, but it was the first to race by Jupiter and Saturn . The images Voyager 1 sent back have been used in schoolbooks and by many media outlets for a generation. The spacecraft also carries a special record — The Golden Record — that's designed to carry voices and music from Earth out into the cosmos. 

According to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) , Voyager 1 has enough fuel to keep its instruments running until at least 2025. By then, the spacecraft will be approximately 13.8 billion miles (22.1 billion kilometers) away from the sun.  

The Voyager missions took advantage of a special alignment of the outer planets that happens just once every 176 years. This alignment allows spacecraft to gravitationally "slingshot" from one planet to the next, making the most efficient use of their limited fuel.

NASA originally planned to send two spacecraft past Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto and two other probes past Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune . Budgetary reasons forced the agency to scale back its plans, but NASA still got a lot out of the two Voyagers it launched.

Voyager 2 flew past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune , while Voyager 1 focused on Jupiter and Saturn.

Recognizing that the Voyagers would eventually fly to interstellar space, NASA authorized the production of two Golden Records to be placed on board the spacecraft. Sounds ranging from whale calls to the music of Chuck Berry were placed on board, as well as spoken greetings in 55 languages. 

The 12-inch-wide (30 centimeters), gold-plated copper disks also included pictorials showing how to operate them and the position of the sun among nearby pulsars (a type of fast-spinning stellar corpse known as a neutron star ), in case extraterrestrials someday stumbled onto the spacecraft and wondered where they came from.

Both spacecraft are powered by three radioisotope thermoelectric generators , devices that convert the heat released by the radioactive decay of plutonium to electricity. Both probes were outfitted with 10 scientific instruments, including a two-camera imaging system, multiple spectrometers, a magnetometer and gear that detects low-energy charged particles and high-energy cosmic rays . Mission team members have also used the Voyagers' communications system to help them study planets and moons, bringing the total number of scientific investigations on each craft to 11.

Voyager 1 almost didn't get off the ground at its launch , as its rocket came within 3.5 seconds of running out of fuel on Sept. 5, 1977.

But the probe made it safely to space and raced past its twin after launch, getting beyond the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before Voyager 2 did. Voyager 1's first pictures of Jupiter beamed back to Earth in April 1978, when the probe was 165 million miles (266 million kilometers) from home.

According to NASA , each voyager probe has about 3 million times less memory than a mobile phone and transmits data approximately 38,000 times slower than a 5g internet connection.  

To NASA's surprise, in March 1979 Voyager 1 spotted a thin ring circling the giant planet. It found two new moons as well — Thebe and Metis. Additionally, Voyager 1 sent back detailed pictures of Jupiter's big Galilean moons ( Io , Europa , Ganymede and Callisto ) as well as Amalthea .

Like the Pioneer spacecraft before it , Voyager's look at Jupiter's moons revealed them to be active worlds of their own. And Voyager 1 made some intriguing discoveries about these natural satellites. For example, Io's many volcanoes and mottled yellow-brown-orange surface showed that, like planets, moons can have active interiors.

Additionally, Voyager 1 sent back photos of Europa showing a relatively smooth surface broken up by lines, hinting at ice and maybe even an ocean underneath. (Subsequent observations and analyses have revealed that Europa likely harbors a huge subsurface ocean of liquid water, which may even be able to support Earth-like life .)

Voyager 1's closest approach to Jupiter was on March 5, 1979, when it came within 174,000 miles (280,000 km) of the turbulent cloud tops. Then it was time for the probe to aim for Saturn.

Scientists only had to wait about a year, until 1980, to get close-up pictures of Saturn. Like Jupiter, the ringed planet turned out to be full of surprises.

One of Voyager 1's targets was the F ring, a thin structure discovered only the year previously by NASA's Pioneer 11 probe. Voyager's higher-resolution camera spotted two new moons, Prometheus and Pandora, whose orbits keep the icy material in the F ring in a defined orbit. It also discovered Atlas and a new ring, the G ring, and took images of several other Saturn moons.

One puzzle for astronomers was Titan , the second-largest moon in the solar system (after Jupiter's Ganymede). Close-up pictures of Titan showed nothing but orange haze, leading to years of speculation about what it was like underneath. It wouldn't be until the mid-2000s that humanity would find out, thanks to photos snapped from beneath the haze by the European Space Agency's Huygens atmospheric probe .

The Saturn encounter marked the end of Voyager 1's primary mission. The focus then shifted to tracking the 1,590-pound (720 kg) craft as it sped toward interstellar space.

Two decades before it notched that milestone, however, Voyager 1 took one of the most iconic photos in spaceflight history. On Feb. 14, 1990, the probe turned back toward Earth and snapped an image of its home planet from 3.7 billion miles (6 billion km) away. The photo shows Earth as a tiny dot suspended in a ray of sunlight. 

Voyager 1 took dozens of other photos that day, capturing five other planets and the sun in a multi-image "solar system family portrait." But the Pale Blue Dot picture stands out, reminding us that Earth is a small outpost of life in an incomprehensibly vast universe.

Voyager 1 left the heliosphere — the giant bubble of charged particles that the sun blows around itself — in August 2012, popping free into interstellar space. The discovery was made public in a study published in the journal Science the following year.

The results came to light after a powerful solar eruption was recorded by Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument between April 9 and May 22, 2013. The eruption caused electrons near Voyager 1 to vibrate. From the oscillations, researchers discovered that Voyager 1's surroundings had a higher density than what is found just inside the heliosphere.

It seems contradictory that electron density is higher in interstellar space than it is in the sun's neighborhood. But researchers explained that, at the edge of the heliosphere, the electron density is dramatically low compared with locations near Earth. 

Researchers then backtracked through Voyager 1's data and nailed down the official departure date to Aug. 25, 2012. The date was fixed not only by the electron oscillations but also by the spacecraft's measurements of charged solar particles. 

On that fateful day — which was the same day that Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong died — the probe saw a 1,000-fold drop in these particles and a 9% increase in galactic cosmic rays that come from outside the solar system . At that point, Voyager 1 was 11.25 billion miles (18.11 billion km) from the sun, or about 121 astronomical units (AU).

One AU is the average Earth-sun distance — about 93 million miles (150 million km).

You can keep tabs on the Voyager 1's current distance and mission status on this NASA website .

Since flying into interstellar space, Voyager 1 has sent back a variety of valuable information about conditions in this zone of the universe . Its discoveries include showing that cosmic radiation out there is very intense, and demonstrating how charged particles from the sun interact with those emitted by other stars , mission project scientist Ed Stone, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, told Space.com in September 2017 .

The spacecraft's capabilities continue to astound engineers. In December 2017, for example, NASA announced that Voyager 1 successfully used its backup thrusters to orient itself to "talk" with Earth . The trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters hadn't been used since November 1980, during Voyager 1's flyby of Saturn. Since then, the spacecraft had primarily used its standard attitude-control thrusters to swing the spacecraft in the right orientation to communicate with Earth. 

As the performance of the attitude-control thrusters began to deteriorate, however, NASA decided to test the TCM thrusters — an idea that could extend Voyager 1's operational life. That test ultimately succeeded. 

"With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years," Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd, of NASA's Jet Propulsion, Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, said in a statement in December 2017 .

Mission team members have taken other measures to extend Voyager 1's life as well. For example, they turned off the spacecraft's cameras shortly after the Pale Blue Dot photo was taken to help conserve Voyager 1's limited power supply. (The cameras wouldn't pick up much in the darkness of deep space anyway.) Over the years, the mission team has turned off five other scientific instruments as well, leaving Voyager 1 with four that are still functioning — the Cosmic Ray Subsystem, the Low-Energy Charged Particles instrument, the Magnetometer and the Plasma Wave Subsystem. (Similar measures have been taken with Voyager 2, which currently has five operational instruments .)

The Voyager spacecraft each celebrated 45 years in space in 2022, a monumental milestone for the twin probes.

"Over the last 45 years, the Voyager missions have been integral in providing this knowledge and have helped change our understanding of the sun and its influence in ways no other spacecraft can," says Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a NASA statement .

"Today, as both Voyagers explore interstellar space, they are providing humanity with observations of uncharted territory," said Linda Spilker, Voyager's deputy project scientist at JPL in the same NASA statement.

"This is the first time we've been able to directly study how a star, our Sun, interacts with the particles and magnetic fields outside our heliosphere, helping scientists understand the local neighborhood between the stars, upending some of the theories about this region, and providing key information for future missions." Spilker continues.

Voyager 1's next big encounter will take place in 40,000 years when the probe comes within 1.7 light-years of the star AC +79 3888. (The star is roughly 17.5 light-years from Earth.) However, Voyager 1's falling power supply means it will probably stop collecting scientific data around 2025.

You can learn much more about both Voyagers' design, scientific instruments and mission goals at JPL's Voyager site . NASA has lots of in-depth information about the Pale Blue Dot photo, including Carl Sagan's large role in making it happen, here . And if you're interested in the Golden Record, check out this detailed New Yorker piece by Timothy Ferris, who produced the historic artifact.  Explore the history of Voyager with this interactive timeline courtesy of NASA.  

Bibliography

  • Bell, Jim. " The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission ," Dutton, 2015.
  • Landau, Elizabeth. "The Voyagers in popular culture," Dec. 1, 2017. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/the-voyagers-in-popular-culture
  • PBS, "Voyager: A history in photos." https://www.pbs.org/the-farthest/mission/voyager-history-photos/

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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, " Why Am I Taller ?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace

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Interstellar Messengers

The Voyager spacecraft against a sparkly blue background

Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 are the only spacecraft ever to operate outside the heliosphere, the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields generated by the Sun. Voyager 1 reached the interstellar boundary in 2012, while Voyager 2 (traveling slower and in a different direction than its twin) reached it in 2018.

Mission Type

Science Targets

Voyager Blog

Artist's concept of Voyager 1 passing beyond the heliopause, which is the boundary between our solar bubble and the matter ejected by explosions of other stars

Mission Updates

Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Science Data from Two Instruments

Latest Voyager Program News

NASA’s Voyager Team Focuses on Software Patch, Thrusters

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NASA Mission Update: Voyager 2 Communications Pause

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NASA’s Voyager Will Do More Science With New Power Strategy

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Edward Stone Retires After 50 Years as NASA Voyager’s Project Scientist

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Engineers Solve Data Glitch on NASA’s Voyager 1

The Interstellar Mission

After completing the first in-depth reconnaissance of the outer planets, the twin Voyagers are on a new mission to chart the edge of interstellar space.

The Golden Record

The contents of the golden record were selected for NASA by a committee led by Carl Sagan of Cornell University.

The Spacecraft

The twin Voyagers are escaping our solar system in different directions at more than 3 astronomical units (AU) a year.

A close up of the golden record. The label says "To the makers of music - all worlds, all times."

The Pale Blue Dot

The behind-the-scenes story of the making of Voyager 1's iconic image of Earth as "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

Earth as a tiny bluish dot suspended in a grainy beam of light.

Discover More Topics From NASA

Tendrils of hot plasma stream from the Sun.

Our Solar System

An illustration of a slice of a bright orange sun, with planets, a comet and asteroids against a blue-black backround.

Heliosphere

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Voyager 1 Now Most Distant Human-Made Object in Space 

voyager 1 real size

In a dark, cold, vacant neighborhood near the very edge of our solar system, the Voyager 1 spacecraft is set to break another record and become the explorer that has traveled farthest from home.

At approximately 2:10 p.m. Pacific time on February 17, 1998, Voyager 1, launched more than two decades ago, will cruise beyond the Pioneer 10 spacecraft and become the most distant human-created object in space at 10.4 billion kilometers (6.5 billion miles.) The two are headed in almost opposite directions away from the Sun. As with other spacecraft traveling past the orbit of Mars, both Voyager and Pioneer derive their electrical power from onboard nuclear batteries.

"For 25 years, the Pioneer 10 spacecraft led the way, pressing the frontiers of exploration, and now the baton is being passed from Pioneer 10 to Voyager 1 to continue exploring where no one has gone before," said Dr. Edward C. Stone, Voyager project scientist and director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"At almost 70 times farther from the Sun than the Earth, Voyager 1 is at the very edge of the Solar System. The Sun there is only 1/5,000th as bright as here on Earth -- so it is extremely cold and there is very little solar energy to keep the spacecraft warm or to provide electrical power. The reason we can continue to operate at such great distances from the Sun is because we have radioisotope thermal electric generators (RTGs) on the spacecraft that create electricity and keep the spacecraft operating," Stone said. "The fact that the spacecraft is still returning data is a remarkable technical achievement."

Voyager 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral on September 5, 1977. The spacecraft encountered Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and Saturn on November 12, 1980.

Then, because its trajectory was designed to fly close to Saturn's large moon Titan, Voyager 1's path was bent northward by Saturn's gravity, sending the spacecraft out of the ecliptic plane - the plane in which all the planets except Pluto orbit the Sun.

Launched on March 2, 1972, the Pioneer 10 mission officially ended on March 31, 1997. However NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, CA, intermittently receives science data from Pioneer as part of a training program for flight controllers of the Lunar Prospector spacecraft now orbiting the Moon.

"The Voyager mission today presents an unequaled technical challenge. The spacecraft are now so far from home that it takes nine hours and 36 minutes for a radio signal traveling at the speed of light to reach Earth,"said Ed B. Massey, project manager for the Voyager Interstellar Mission. "That signal, produced by a 20 watt radio transmitter, is so faint that the amount of power reaching our antennas is 20 billion times smaller than the power of a digital watch battery,"

Having completed their planetary explorations, Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, are studying the environment of space in the outer solar system. Although beyond the orbits of all the planets, the spacecraft still are well within the boundary of the Sun's magnetic field, called the heliosphere. Science instruments on both spacecraft sense signals that scientists believe are coming from the outermost edge of the heliosphere, known as the heliopause.

The heliosphere results from the Sun emitting a steady flow of electrically charged particles called the solar wind. As the solar wind expands supersonically into space in all directions, it creates a magnetized bubble -- the heliosphere -- around the Sun. Eventually, the solar wind encounters the electrically charged particles and magnetic field in the interstellar gas. In this zone the solar wind abruptly slows down from supersonic to subsonic speed, creating a termination shock. Before the spacecraft travel beyond the heliopause into interstellar space, they will pass through this termination shock.

"The data coming back from Voyager now suggest that we may pass through the termination shock in the next three to five years," Stone said. "If that's the case, then one would expect that within 10 years or so we would actually be very close to penetrating the heliopause itself and entering into interstellar space for the first time."

Reaching the termination shock and heliopause will be major milestones for the mission because no spacecraft have been there before and the Voyagers will gather the first direct evidence of their structure. Encountering the termination shock and heliopause has been a long-sought goal for many space physicists, and exactly where these two boundaries are located and what they are like still remains a mystery.

Science data are returned to Earth in real-time to the 34- meter Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas located in California, Australia and Spain. Both spacecraft have enough electricity and attitude control propellant to continue operating until about 2020, when electrical power produced by the RTGs will no longer support science instrument operation. At that time, Voyager 1 will be almost 150 times farther from the Sun than the Earth -- more than 20 billion kilometers (almost 14 billion miles) away.

On Feb. 17, Voyager 1 will be 10.4 billion kilometers (6.5 billion miles) from Earth and is departing the Solar System at a speed of 17.4 kilometers per second (39,000 miles per hour). At the same time, Voyager 2 will be 8.1 billion kilometers (5.1 billion miles) from Earth and is departing the solar system at a speed of 15.9 kilometers per second (35,000 miles per hour).

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the Voyager Interstellar Mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D. C.

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Fresh Data From the Cosmos: NASA’s Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Science Data From 15 Billion Miles Away

By Jet Propulsion Laboratory May 24, 2024

NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft Entering Interstellar Space

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. Following a computer glitch, Voyager 1 is back to transmitting scientific data, with further instrument recalibrations expected soon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Voyager 1, after overcoming a computer issue, has resumed sending scientific data from two of its instruments, with plans to recalibrate the remaining two soon. This marks significant progress in restoring the spacecraft, which is over 15 billion miles from Earth and requires over 22 hours for communications to travel one way.

NASA ’s Voyager 1 has resumed returning science data from two of its four instruments for the first time since November 2023, when a computer issue arose with the spacecraft. The mission’s science instrument teams are now determining steps to recalibrate the remaining two instruments, which will likely occur in the coming weeks. The achievement marks significant progress toward restoring the spacecraft to normal operations.

Progress in Troubleshooting

In April, after five months of troubleshooting since the original computer issue, the mission was able to get the spacecraft to begin returning usable engineering data about the health and status of its onboard systems, including the science instruments. On May 17, the team sent commands to the 46-year-old spacecraft that enabled it to resume sending science data to Earth. With Voyager 1 located more than 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from its home planet, it takes light over 22 1/2 hours to reach the spacecraft, and 22 1/2 hours for a signal to return to Earth. As a result, the team had to wait nearly two days to see if their commands were successful.

Instruments Begin Data Return

The plasma wave subsystem and magnetometer instrument are now returning usable science data. As part of the effort to restore Voyager 1 to normal operations, the mission is continuing work on the cosmic ray subsystem and low energy charged particle instrument. ( Six additional instruments aboard Voyager 1 are either no longer working or were turned off after the probe’s flyby of Saturn .)

Diagnosing Communication Issues

Normal operations were interrupted last year when Voyager 1 began sending a signal back to Earth that contained no science or engineering data. The team eventually determined the issue stemmed from a small portion of corrupted memory in the flight data subsystem, one of the spacecraft’s three computers. Among other things, this system is designed to package data from the science instruments as well as engineering data about the health and status of the spacecraft before that information is sent to Earth.

Longstanding Exploration Achievements

Launched in 1977 , Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, will celebrate 47 years of operations later this year. They are NASA’s longest-operating spacecraft as well as the first and only spacecraft to explore outside the heliosphere . Created by the Sun, this bubble of magnetic fields and solar wind pushes against the interstellar medium, an ocean of particles created by stars that have exploded elsewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. Both probes flew past Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 also flew past Uranus and Neptune .

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7 comments on "fresh data from the cosmos: nasa’s voyager 1 resumes sending science data from 15 billion miles away".

voyager 1 real size

I’m happy for Voyager! And the rest of us, despite hearing that all the previous data feeds (or the instruments) are still not up to speed.

Reading the JPL article, it has a likely misleading description on data from the instruments. Here is what NASA says:

“Voyager 1 has resumed returning science data from two of its four instruments for the first time since a computer issue arose with the spacecraft in November 2023. The mission’s science instrument teams are now determining steps to recalibrate the remaining two instruments, which will likely occur in the coming weeks. The achievement marks significant progress toward restoring the spacecraft to normal operations.”

Nope, strike that, I misread.

voyager 1 real size

I have followed these 2 probes since they were launched and I believe it was and is money well spent and will benefit all of humanity now and long into the future. On a personal note I have spent 47 years enjoying the flow of information from the 2 probes. Thank you

voyager 1 real size

Voyager is 47 years old and this won’t be the last “crisis” concerning hardware breakdowns. It’s amazing she has been so reliable and my hats off to the NASA team in keeping her operational. I’ve been following the Voyagers since their launch in 1977 and have really enjoyed their missions.

voyager 1 real size

As a radio transmission a and satellite specialist and the NASA’s data about Voyager antennas, I think impossible the communication with any of Voyagers. The radio signal is too weak to get possible point the antennas in deep space about 23^9 km Voyager antennas: 3.7m Gain – 8.4 GHz = 49.2 dBi Gain – 2.2 GHz = 37.64 dBi Voyager 1: Downlink frequency: 8420.4321 MHz Uplink frequency: 2292.4231 MHz Voyager 2: Downlink frequency: 8420.4231 MHz Uplink frequency: 2113.3571 MHz Frequency (MHz) Voyager 1 : Coherent Non Coherent 2296.481481 2295.000000 8420.432097 8415.000000 Voyager 2: Coherent Non Coherent 2295.000000 2296.481481 8415.000000 8420.432097 Antennas on Earth: DSN-Deep Space Network Goldstone, California: 70m, 34m and 26m Madrid, Spain: 70m, 34m and 26m Canberra, Australia: 70m, 34m

But… Who am I for anybody that don’t know calc to believe?

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  • Object Information
  • Planetarium

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Voyager 1 live position and data

This page shows Voyager 1 location and other relevant astronomical data in real time. The celestial coordinates, magnitude, distances and speed are updated in real time and are computed using high quality data sets provided by the JPL Horizons ephemeris service (see acknowledgements for details). The sky map shown in the background represents a rectangular portion of the sky 60x40 arcminutes wide. By comparison the diameter of the full Moon is about 30 arcmins, so the full horizontal extent of the map is approximately 2 full Moons wide. Depending on the device you are using, the map can be dragged horizondally or vertically using the mouse or touchscreen. The deep sky image in the background is provided by the Digitized Sky Survey ( acknowledgements ).

Current close conjunctions

List of bright objects (stars brighter than magnitude 9.0 and galaxies brighter than magmitude 14.0) close to Voyager 1 (less than 1.5 degrees):

Additional resources

  • 15 Days Ephemerides
  • Interactive Sky Map (Planetarium)
  • Rise & Set Times
  • Distance from Earth

Astronomy databases

  • The Digitized Sky Survey, a photographic survey of the whole sky created using images from different telescopes, including the Oschin Schmidt Telescope on Palomar Mountain
  • The Hipparcos Star Catalogue, containing more than 100.000 bright stars
  • The PGC 2003 Catalogue, containing information about 1 million galaxies
  • The GSC 2.3 Catalogue, containing information about more than 2 billion stars and galaxies

Things are finally looking up for the Voyager 1 interstellar spacecraft

Two of the four science instruments aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft are now returning usable data after months of transmitting only gibberish, NASA scientists have announced.

Voyager 1

I was once sitting with my father while Googling how far away various things in the solar system are from Earth. He was looking for exact numbers, and very obviously grew more invested with each new figure I shouted out. I was thrilled. The moon? On average, 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) away. The James Webb Space Telescope ? Bump that up to about a million miles (1,609,344 km) away. The sun? 93 million miles (149,668,992 km) away.  Neptune ? 2.8  billion  miles (4.5 billion km) away. "Well, wait until you hear about Voyager 1," I eventually said, assuming he was aware of what was coming. He was not.

"NASA's  Voyager 1  interstellar spacecraft actually isn't even in the solar system anymore," I announced. "Nope, it's more than 15 billion miles (24 billion km)  away from us  — and it's getting even farther as we speak." I can't quite remember his response, but I do indeed recall an expression of sheer disbelief. There were immediate inquiries about how that's even physically possible. There were bewildered laughs, different ways of saying "wow," and mostly, there was a contagious sense of awe. And just like that, a new Voyager 1 fan was born.

It is easy to see why Voyager 1 is among the most beloved robotic space explorers we have — and it is thus easy to understand why so many people felt a pang to their hearts several months ago, when Voyager 1 stopped talking to us.

Related:  After months of sending gibberish to NASA, Voyager 1 is finally making sense again

For reasons unknown at the time, this spacecraft began sending back gibberish in place of the neatly organized and data-rich 0's and 1's it had been providing since its  launch in 1977 . It was this classic computer language which allowed Voyager 1 to converse with its creators while earning the title of "farthest human made object." It's how the spacecraft relayed vital insight that led to the discovery of new Jovian moons and, thanks to this sort of binary podcast, scientists incredibly identified a new ring of Saturn and created the solar system's first and only "family portrait." This code, in essence, is crucial to Voyager 1's very being.

Plus, to make matters worse, the issue behind the glitch turned out to be associated with the craft's Flight Data System, which is literally the system that transmits information about Voyager 1's health so scientists can correct any issues that arise. Issues like this one. Furthermore, because of the spacecraft's immense distance from its operators on Earth, it takes about 22.5 hours for a transmission to reach the spacecraft, and then 22.5 hours to receive a transmission back. Alas, things weren't looking good for a while — for about five months, to be precise.

But then, on April 20, Voyager 1  finally phoned home  with legible 0's and legible 1's.

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Earth as a

"The team had gathered early on a weekend morning to see whether telemetry would return," Bob Rasmussen, a member of the Voyager flight team, told Space.com. "It was nice to have everyone assembled in one place like this to share in the moment of learning that our efforts had been successful. Our cheer was both for the intrepid spacecraft and for the comradery that enabled its recovery."

And  then,  on May 22 , Voyager scientists released the welcome announcement that the spacecraft has successfully resumed returning science data from two of its four instruments, the plasma wave subsystem and magnetometer instrument. They're now working on getting the other two, the cosmic ray subsystem and low energy charged particle instrument, back online as well. Though there technically are six other instruments onboard Voyager, those had been out of commission for some time.

The comeback

Rasmussen was actually a member of the Voyager team in the 1970s, having worked on the project as a computer engineer before leaving for other missions including  Cassini , which launched the spacecraft that taught us almost everything we currently know about Saturn. In 2022, however, he returned to Voyager because of a separate dilemma with the mission — and has remained on the team ever since.

"There are many of the original people who were there when Voyager launched, or even before, who were part of both the flight team and the science team," Linda Spilker, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory , who also worked on the Voyager mission, told Space.com in the This Week from Space podcast on the TWiT network. "It's a real tribute to Voyager — the longevity not only of the spacecraft, but of the people on the team."

To get Voyager 1 back online, in rather cinematic fashion, the team devised a complex workaround that prompted the FDS to send a copy of its memory back to Earth. Within that memory readout, operators managed to discover the crux of the problem — a corrupted code spanning a single chip — which was then remedied through another (honestly,  super interesting ) process to modify the code. On the day Voyager 1 finally spoke again, "you could have heard a pin drop in the room," Spilker said. "It was very silent. Everybody's looking at the screen, waiting and watching." 

The rocket that launched Voyager 1 in 1977.

Of course, Spilker also brought in some peanuts for the team to munch on — but not just any peanuts. Lucky peanuts. 

It's a longstanding tradition at JPL to have a peanut feast before major mission events like launches, milestones and, well, the possible resurrection of Voyager 1. It  began  in the 1960s, when the agency was trying to launch the Ranger 7 mission that was meant to take pictures of and collect data about the moon's surface. Rangers 1 through 6 had all failed, so Ranger 7 was a big deal. As such, the mission's trajectory engineer, Dick Wallace, brought lots of peanuts for the team to nibble on and relax. Sure enough, Ranger 7 was a success and, as Wallace once said, "the rest is history." 

Voyager 1 needed some of those positive snacky vibes. 

"It'd been five months since we'd had any information," Spilker explained. So, in this room of silence besides peanut-eating-noises, Voyager 1 operators sat at their respective system screens, waiting. 

"All of a sudden it started to populate — the data," Spilker said. That's when the programmers who had been staring at those screens in anticipation leapt out of their seats and began to cheer: "They were the happiest people in the room, I think, and there was just a sense of joy that we had Voyager 1 back."

flight team of voyager 1

Eventually, Rasmussen says the team was able to conclude that the failure probably occurred due to a combination of aging and radiation damage by which energetic particles in space bombarded the craft. This is also why he believes it wouldn't be terribly surprising to see a similar failure occur in the future, seeing as Voyager 1 is still roaming beyond the distant boundaries of our stellar neighborhood just like its spacecraft twin,  Voyager 2 .

To be sure, the spacecraft isn't fully fixed yet — but it's lovely to know things are finally looking up, especially with the recent news that some of its science instruments are back on track. And, at the very least, Rasmussen assures that nothing the team has learned so far has been alarming. "We're confident that we understand the problem well," he said, "and we remain optimistic about getting everything back to normal — but we also expect this won't be the last."

The trajectory of the Voyagers.

In fact, as Rasmussen explains, Voyager 1 operators first became optimistic about the situation just after the root cause of the glitch had been determined with certainty. He also emphasizes that the team's spirits were never down. "We knew from indirect evidence that we had a spacecraft that was mostly healthy," he said. "Saying goodbye was not on our minds."

"Rather," he continued, "we wanted to push toward a solution as quickly as possible so other matters on board that had been neglected for months could be addressed. We're now calmly moving toward that goal."

The future of Voyager's voyage

It can't be ignored that, over the last few months, there has been an air of anxiety and fear across the public sphere that Voyager 1 was slowly moving toward sending us its final 0 and final 1. Headlines all over the internet, one written by  myself included , have carried clear, negative weight. I think it's because even if Voyager 2 could technically carry the interstellar torch post-Voyager 1, the prospect of losing Voyager 1 felt like the prospect of losing a piece of history. 

"We've crossed this boundary called the heliopause," Spilker explained of the Voyagers. "Voyager 1 crossed this boundary in 2012; Voyager 2 crossed it in 2018 — and, since that time, were the first spacecraft ever to make direct measurements of the interstellar medium." That medium basically refers to material that fills the space between stars. In this case, that's the space between other stars and our sun, which, though we don't always think of it as one, is simply another star in the universe. A drop in the cosmic ocean.

"JPL started building the two Voyager spacecraft in 1972," Spilker explained. "For context, that was only three years after we had the first human walk on the moon — and the reason we started that early is that we had this rare alignment of the planets that happens once every  176 years ." It was this alignment that could promise the spacecraft checkpoints across the solar system, including at Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Those checkpoints were important for the Voyagers in particular. Alongside planetary visits come gravity assists, and gravity assists can help fling stuff within the solar system — and, now we know, beyond.

As the first humanmade object to leave the solar system, as a relic of America's early space program, and as a testament to how robust even decades-old technology can be, Voyager 1 has carved out the kind of legacy usually reserved for remarkable things lost to time.

The

"Our scientists are eager to see what they’ve been missing," Rasmussen remarked. "Everyone on the team is self-motivated by their commitment to this unique and important project. That's where the real pressure comes from." 

Still, in terms of energy, the team's approach has been clinical and determined. 

— NASA's Voyager 1 sends readable message to Earth after 4 nail-biting months of gibberish

— NASA engineers discover why Voyager 1 is sending a stream of gibberish from outside our solar system

— NASA's Voyager 1 probe hasn't 'spoken' in 3 months and needs a 'miracle' to save it

"No one was ever especially excited or depressed," he said. "We're confident that we can get back to business as usual soon, but we also know that we're dealing with an aging spacecraft that is bound to have trouble again in the future. That's just a fact of life on this mission, so not worth getting worked up about."

Nonetheless, I imagine it's always a delight for Voyager 1's engineers to remember this robotic explorer occupies curious minds around the globe. (Including my dad's mind now, thanks to me and Google.)

As Rasmussen puts it: "It's wonderful to know how much the world appreciates this mission."

Originally posted on Space.com .

Monisha Ravisetti is Space.com's Astronomy Editor. She covers black holes, star explosions, gravitational waves, exoplanet discoveries and other enigmas hidden across the fabric of space and time. Previously, she was a science writer at CNET, and before that, reported for The Academic Times. Prior to becoming a writer, she was an immunology researcher at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She graduated from New York University in 2018 with a B.A. in philosophy, physics and chemistry. She spends too much time playing online chess. Her favorite planet is Earth.

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Voyager 1 Sends Clear Data to NASA for the First Time in Five Months

The farthest spacecraft from Earth had been transmitting nonsense since November, but after an engineering tweak, it finally beamed back a report on its health and status

Will Sullivan

Will Sullivan

Daily Correspondent

Voyager 1 team celebrating around a table

For the first time in five months, NASA has received usable data from Voyager 1, the farthest spacecraft from Earth.

The aging probe, which has traveled more than 15 billion miles into space, stopped transmitting science and engineering data on November 14. Instead, it sent NASA a nonsensical stream of repetitive binary code . For months, the agency’s engineers undertook a slow process of trial and error, giving the spacecraft various commands and waiting to see how it responded. Thanks to some creative thinking, the team identified a broken chip on the spacecraft and relocated some of the code that was stored there, according to the agency .

NASA is now receiving data about the health and status of Voyager 1’s engineering systems. The next step is to get the spacecraft to start sending science data again.

“Today was a great day for Voyager 1,” Linda Spilker , a Voyager project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a statement over the weekend, per CNN ’s Ashley Strickland. “We’re back in communication with the spacecraft. And we look forward to getting science data back.”

Hi, it's me. - V1 https://t.co/jgGFBfxIOe — NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) April 22, 2024

Voyager 1 and its companion, Voyager 2, separately launched from Earth in 1977. Between the two of them, the probes have studied all four giant planets in the outer solar system—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune—along with 48 of their moons and the planets’ magnetic fields. The spacecraft observed Saturn’s rings in detail and discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io .

Originally designed for a five-year mission within our solar system, both probes are still operational and chugging along through space, far beyond Pluto’s orbit. In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to reach interstellar space, the area between stars. The probe is now about eight times farther from the sun than Uranus is on average.

Over the decades, the Voyager spacecraft have transmitted data collected on their travels back to NASA scientists. But in November, Voyager 1 started sending gibberish .

Engineers determined Voyager 1’s issue was with one of three onboard computers, called the flight data system (FDS), NASA said in a December blog post . While the spacecraft was still receiving and executing commands from Earth, the FDS was not communicating properly with a subsystem called the telemetry modulation unit (TMU). The FDS collects science and engineering data and combines it into a package that the TMU transmits back to Earth.

Since Voyager 1 is so far away, testing solutions to its technical issues requires time—it takes 22.5 hours for commands to reach the probe and another 22.5 hours for Voyager 1’s response to come back.

On March 1, engineers sent a command that coaxed Voyager 1 into sending a readout of the FDS memory, NASA said in a March 13 blog post . From that readout, the team confirmed a small part—about 3 percent—of the system’s memory had been corrupted, NASA said in an April 4 update .

The core of the problem turned out to be a faulty chip hosting some software code and part of the FDS memory. NASA doesn’t know what caused the chip to stop working—it could be that a high-energy particle from space collided with it, or the chip might have just run out of steam after almost 50 years spent hurtling through the cosmos.

“It’s the most serious issue we’ve had since I’ve been the project manager, and it’s scary because you lose communication with the spacecraft,” Suzanne Dodd , Voyager project manager at JPL, told Scientific American ’s Nadia Drake in March.

To receive usable data again, the engineers needed to move the affected code somewhere else that wasn’t broken. But no single location in the FDS memory was large enough to hold all of the code, so the engineers divided it into chunks and stored it in multiple places, per NASA .

The team started with moving the code responsible for sending Voyager’s status reports, sending it to its new location in the FDS memory on April 18. They received confirmation that the strategy worked on April 20, when the first data on the spacecraft’s health since November arrived on Earth.

In the next several weeks, the team will relocate the parts of the FDS software that can start returning science data.

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Will Sullivan

Will Sullivan | | READ MORE

Will Sullivan is a science writer based in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in Inside Science and NOVA Next .

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Hope returns —

Nasa knows what knocked voyager 1 offline, but it will take a while to fix, "engineers are optimistic they can find a way for the fds to operate normally.".

Stephen Clark - Apr 6, 2024 12:28 am UTC

A Voyager space probe in a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1977.

Engineers have determined why NASA's Voyager 1 probe has been transmitting gibberish for nearly five months, raising hopes of recovering humanity's most distant spacecraft.

Voyager 1, traveling outbound some 15 billion miles (24 billion km) from Earth, started beaming unreadable data down to ground controllers on November 14. For nearly four months, NASA knew Voyager 1 was still alive—it continued to broadcast a steady signal—but could not decipher anything it was saying.

Confirming their hypothesis, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California confirmed a small portion of corrupted memory caused the problem. The faulty memory bank is located in Voyager 1's Flight Data System (FDS), one of three computers on the spacecraft. The FDS operates alongside a command-and-control central computer and another device overseeing attitude control and pointing.

The FDS duties include packaging Voyager 1's science and engineering data for relay to Earth through the craft's Telemetry Modulation Unit and radio transmitter. According to NASA, about 3 percent of the FDS memory has been corrupted, preventing the computer from carrying out normal operations.

Optimism growing

Suzanne Dodd, NASA's project manager for the twin Voyager probes, told Ars in February that this was one of the most serious problems the mission has ever faced. That is saying something because Voyager 1 and 2 are NASA's longest-lived spacecraft. They launched 16 days apart in 1977, and after flying by Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 is flying farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history. Voyager 2 is trailing Voyager 1 by about 2.5 billion miles, although the probes are heading out of the Solar System in different directions.

Normally, engineers would try to diagnose a spacecraft malfunction by analyzing data it sent back to Earth. They couldn't do that in this case because Voyager 1 has been transmitting data packages manifesting a repeating pattern of ones and zeros. Still, Voyager 1's ground team identified the FDS as the likely source of the problem.

The Flight Data Subsystem was an innovation in computing when it was developed five decades ago. It was the first computer on a spacecraft to use volatile memory. Most of NASA's missions operate with redundancy, so each Voyager spacecraft launched with two FDS computers. But the backup FDS on Voyager 1 failed in 1982.

Due to the Voyagers' age, engineers had to reference paper documents, memos, and blueprints to help understand the spacecraft's design details. After months of brainstorming and planning, teams at JPL uplinked a command in early March to prompt the spacecraft to send back a readout of the FDS memory.

The command worked, and Voyager1 responded with a signal different from the code it had been transmitting since November. After several weeks of meticulous examination of the new code, engineers pinpointed the location of the bad memory.

"The team suspects that a single chip responsible for storing part of the affected portion of the FDS memory isn’t working," NASA said in an update posted Thursday. "Engineers can’t determine with certainty what caused the issue. Two possibilities are that the chip could have been hit by an energetic particle from space or that it simply may have worn out after 46 years."

Voyager 1's distance from Earth complicates the troubleshooting effort. The one-way travel time for a radio signal to reach Voyager 1 from Earth is about 22.5 hours, meaning it takes roughly 45 hours for engineers on the ground to learn how the spacecraft responded to their commands.

NASA also must use its largest communications antennas to contact Voyager 1. These 230-foot-diameter (70-meter) antennas are in high demand by many other NASA spacecraft , so the Voyager team has to compete with other missions to secure time for troubleshooting. This means it will take time to get Voyager 1 back to normal operations.

"Although it may take weeks or months, engineers are optimistic they can find a way for the FDS to operate normally without the unusable memory hardware, which would enable Voyager 1 to begin returning science and engineering data again," NASA said.

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Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Highest resolution Voyager 1 color view of the Great Red Spot

The color in this mosaic was rather difficult to process. The WAC filters are significantly different from the corresponding NAC filters and the left/right edges are not covered by all three WAC filters. There are also some areas in the NAC mosaic where only green or violet was available (especially near the corners of the NAC area). The color is somewhat less accurate there.

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Stephen Clark, Ars Technica

How NASA Repaired Voyager 1 From 15 Billion Miles Away

The Voyager 1 spacecraft launching

Engineers have partially restored a 1970s-era computer on NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft after five months of long-distance troubleshooting , building confidence that humanity's first interstellar probe can eventually resume normal operations.

Several dozen scientists and engineers gathered Saturday in a conference room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or connected virtually, to wait for a new signal from Voyager 1. The ground team sent a command up to Voyager 1 on Thursday to recode part of the memory of the spacecraft's Flight Data Subsystem (FDS) , one of the probe's three computers.

“In the minutes leading up to when we were going to see a signal, you could have heard a pin drop in the room,” said Linda Spilker, project scientist for NASA's two Voyager spacecraft at JPL. “It was quiet. People were looking very serious. They were looking at their computer screens. Each of the subsystem (engineers) had pages up that they were looking at, to watch as they would be populated.”

Finally, a Breakthrough

Launched nearly 47 years ago, Voyager 1 is flying on an outbound trajectory more than 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth, and it takes 22.5 hours for a radio signal to cover that distance at the speed of light. This means it takes nearly two days for engineers to uplink a command to Voyager 1 and get a response.

In November, Voyager 1 suddenly stopped transmitting its usual stream of data containing information about the spacecraft's health and measurements from its scientific instruments. Instead, the spacecraft's datastream was entirely unintelligible. Because the telemetry was unreadable, experts on the ground could not easily tell what went wrong. They hypothesized the source of the problem might be in the memory bank of the FDS.

There was a breakthrough last month when engineers sent up a novel command to “poke” Voyager 1's FDS to send back a readout of its memory. This readout allowed engineers to pinpoint the location of the problem in the FDS memory . The FDS is responsible for packaging engineering and scientific data for transmission to Earth.

After a few weeks, NASA was ready to uplink a solution to get the FDS to resume packing engineering data. This datastream includes information on the status of the spacecraft—things like power levels and temperature measurements. This command went up to Voyager 1 through one of NASA's large Deep Space Network antennae on Thursday.

Then, the wait for a response. Spilker, who started working on Voyager right out of college in 1977, was in the room when Voyager 1's signal reached Earth on Saturday.

“When the time came to get the signal, we could clearly see all of a sudden, boom, we had data, and there were tears and smiles and high fives,” she told Ars. “Everyone was very happy and very excited to see that, hey, we're back in communication again with Voyager 1. We're going to see the status of the spacecraft, the health of the spacecraft, for the first time in five months.”

People clapping and cheering in a conference room

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Throughout the five months of troubleshooting, Voyager's ground team continued to receive signals indicating the spacecraft was still alive. But until Saturday, they lacked insight into specific details about the status of Voyager 1.

“It’s pretty much just the way we left it,” Spilker said. “We're still in the initial phases of analyzing all of the channels and looking at their trends. Some of the temperatures went down a little bit with this period of time that's gone on, but we're pretty much seeing everything we had hoped for. And that's always good news.”

Relocating Code

Through their investigation, Voyager's ground team discovered that a single chip responsible for storing a portion of the FDS memory had stopped working, probably due to either a cosmic ray hit or a failure of aging hardware. This affected some of the computer's software code.

“That took out a section of memory,” Spilker said. “What they have to do is relocate that code into a different portion of the memory, and then make sure that anything that uses those codes, those subroutines, know to go to the new location of memory, for access and to run it.”

Only about 3 percent of the FDS memory was corrupted by the bad chip, so engineers needed to transplant that code into another part of the memory bank. But no single location is large enough to hold the section of code in its entirety, NASA said.

So the Voyager team divided the code into sections for storage in different places in the FDS. This wasn't just a copy-and-paste job. Engineers needed to modify some of the code to make sure it will all work together. “Any references to the location of that code in other parts of the FDS memory needed to be updated as well,” NASA said in a statement.

Newer NASA missions have hardware and software simulators on the ground, where engineers can test new procedures to make sure they do no harm when they uplink commands to the real spacecraft. Due to its age, Voyager doesn't have any ground simulators, and much of the mission's original design documentation remains in paper form and hasn't been digitized.

“It was really eyes-only to look at the code,” Spilker said. “So we had to triple check. Everybody was looking through and making sure we had all of the links coming together.”

This was just the first step in restoring Voyager 1 to full functionality. “We were pretty sure it would work, but until it actually happened, we didn't know 100 percent for sure,” Spilker said.

“The reason we didn’t do everything in one step is that there was a very limited amount of memory we could find quickly, so we prioritized one data mode (the engineering data mode), and relocated only the code to restore that mode,” said Jeff Mellstrom, a JPL engineer who leads the Voyager 1 “tiger team” tasked with overcoming this problem.

“The next step, to relocate the remaining three actively used science data modes, is essentially the same,” Mellstrom said in a written response to Ars. “The main difference is the available memory constraint is now even tighter. We have ideas where we could relocate the code, but we haven’t yet fully assessed the options or made a decision. These are the first steps we will start this week.”

It could take “a few weeks” to go through the sections of code responsible for packaging Voyager 1's science data in the FDS, Spilker said.

That will be the key payoff, Spilker said. Voyager 1 and its twin spacecraft, Voyager 2, are the only operating probes flying in the interstellar medium, the diffuse gas between the stars. Their prime missions are long over. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter and Saturn in 1979 and 1980, then got a gravitational boost toward the outer edge of the Solar System. Voyager 2 took a slower trajectory and encountered Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

For the past couple of decades, NASA has devoted Voyager's instruments to studying cosmic rays, the magnetic field, and the plasma environment in interstellar space. They're not taking pictures anymore. Both probes have traveled beyond the heliopause, where the flow of particles emanating from the Sun runs into the interstellar medium.

Illustration showing Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 relative to the heliosphere

But any scientific data collected by Voyager 1 since November 14 has been lost. The spacecraft does not have the ability to store science data onboard. Voyager 2 has remained operational during the outage of Voyager 1.

Scientists are eager to get their hands on Voyager 1's science data again. “With the results we got on Saturday, we have new confidence that we can put together the pieces we need to now get back the science data,” Spilker said.

“One thing I'm particularly excited about—there's this feature in the Voyager 1 data. We nicknamed it Pressure Front 2,” Spilker said. “Pressure Front 2 is a jump in both the density of the plasma around the spacecraft and the magnetic field. It's lasted for three-and-a-half years.”

“We'd like to see, is this still there?” she continued. “It's different from what we've seen in the past, and we're trying to figure out, is it some influence coming from the Sun, or is it actually something coming from interstellar space that's creating this feature? So we'd like to see it again, get more data, and be able to study it more carefully.”

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica .

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  1. Voyager 1

    Voyager 1 is a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, ... Real-time distance and velocity data are provided by NASA and JPL. ... atmospheres, masses, gravity fields, densities) and the amount and size distribution of material in Saturn's rings and the ring dimensions. Principal investigator: G. Tyler / Stanford University PDS/PRN overview

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    Voyager 1 has been exploring our solar system since 1977. The probe is now in interstellar space, the region outside the heliopause, or the bubble of energetic particles and magnetic fields from the Sun. Voyager 1 was launched after Voyager 2, but because of a faster route it exited the asteroid belt earlier than its twin, and it overtook Voyager 2 on Dec. 15, 1977.

  3. Voyager 1: Facts about Earth's farthest spacecraft

    Size: Voyager 1's body is about the size of a subcompact car. The boom for its magnetometer instrument extends 42.7 feet (13 meters). Weight (at launch): 1,797 pounds (815 kilograms).

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    This is a real-time indicator of Voyagers' distance from Earth in astronomical units (AU) and either miles (mi) or kilometers (km). Note: Because Earth moves around the sun faster than Voyager 1 is speeding away from the inner solar system, the distance between Earth and the spacecraft actually decreases at certain times of year.

  5. Voyager

    Voyager 1 flew within 64,200 kilometers (40,000 miles) of the cloud tops, while Voyager 2 came within 41,000 kilometers (26,000 miles). Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system. It takes 29.5 Earth years to complete one orbit of the Sun, and its day was clocked at 10 hours, 39 minutes.

  6. Voyager

    The Voyager 1 and 2 Saturn encounters occurred nine months apart, in November 1980 and August 1981. Voyager 1 is leaving the solar system. ... Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Coincidentally, Earth lies right in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. This blown-up image of ...

  7. Voyager 1

    About the mission. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in August 2012 and is the most distant human-made object in existence. Launched just shortly after its twin spacecraft, Voyager 2, in 1977, Voyager 1 explored the Jovian and Saturnian systems discovering new moons, active volcanoes and a wealth of data about the outer solar system.

  8. Mission Overview

    In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. Voyager 2 entered interstellar space on November 5, 2018 and scientists hope to learn more about this region. Both spacecraft are still sending scientific ...

  9. Voyager

    What. Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 are the only spacecraft ever to operate outside the heliosphere, the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields generated by the Sun. Voyager 1 reached the interstellar boundary in 2012, while Voyager 2 (traveling slower and in a different direction than its twin) reached it in 2018.

  10. Voyager 1 Now Most Distant Human-Made Object in Space

    At approximately 2:10 p.m. Pacific time on February 17, 1998, Voyager 1, launched more than two decades ago, will cruise beyond the Pioneer 10 spacecraft and become the most distant human-created object in space at 10.4 billion kilometers (6.5 billion miles.) The two are headed in almost opposite directions away from the Sun.

  11. Fresh Data From the Cosmos: NASA's Voyager 1 Resumes ...

    This marks significant progress in restoring the spacecraft, which is over 15 billion miles from Earth and requires over 22 hours for communications to travel one way. NASA 's Voyager 1 has resumed returning science data from two of its four instruments for the first time since November 2023, when a computer issue arose with the spacecraft.

  12. Voyager 1

    The value of the distance of Voyager 1 from Earth is also available as a real time updated value in the Live Position and Data Tracker. Closest Approach of Voyager 1 to Earth Between 1 January 2013 and 30 December 2099, the closest approach of Voyager 1 to Earth happens on Mon Apr 22 2013 at a distance of 123.348498 Astronomical Units, or ...

  13. Voyager 1 Tracker

    Voyager 1 live position and data. This page shows Voyager 1 location and other relevant astronomical data in real time. The celestial coordinates, magnitude, distances and speed are updated in real time and are computed using high quality data sets provided by the JPL Horizons ephemeris service (see acknowledgements for details). The sky map shown in the background represents a rectangular ...

  14. Things are finally looking up for the Voyager 1 interstellar spacecraft

    "It's a real tribute to Voyager — the longevity not only of the spacecraft, but of the people on the team." ... "Voyager 1 crossed this boundary in 2012; Voyager 2 crossed it in 2018 — and ...

  15. Images taken by the Voyager 1 Spacecraft

    First Close-up Image of Jupiter from Voyager 1 Full Resolution: TIFF (280.8 kB) JPEG (10.37 kB) 1996-09-26: Jupiter: Voyager: VG ISS - Narrow Angle: 500x500x3: PIA00455: Jupiter with Io Crossing Full Resolution: TIFF (412 kB) JPEG (15.15 kB) 1996-09-26

  16. Voyager

    This is a real-time indicator of Voyager 1's distance from Earth in astronomical units (AU) and either miles (mi) or kilometers (km). Note: Because Earth moves around the sun faster than Voyager 1 is speeding away from the inner solar system, the distance between Earth and the spacecraft actually decreases at certain times of year.

  17. Voyager 1 Sends Clear Data to NASA for the First Time in Five Months

    Since Voyager 1 is so far away, testing solutions to its technical issues requires time—it takes 22.5 hours for commands to reach the probe and another 22.5 hours for Voyager 1's response to ...

  18. NASA knows what knocked Voyager 1 offline, but it will take a while to

    Voyager 1's distance from Earth complicates the troubleshooting effort. The one-way travel time for a radio signal to reach Voyager 1 from Earth is about 22.5 hours, meaning it takes roughly 45 ...

  19. Voyager

    Voyager 1 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.5 AU per year, 35 degrees out of the ecliptic plane to the north, in the general direction of the solar apex (the direction of the sun's motion relative to nearby stars). Voyager 1 will leave the solar system aiming toward the constellation Ophiuchus.

  20. Highest resolution Voyager 1 color view of the Great Red Spot

    At ~6 km/pixel, this is the highest resolution pre-Juno color data for Jupiter (all of the higher resolution Voyager images are clear filter images). Lower resolution orange, green and violet images from Voyager 1's wide angle camera (WAC) are also used to show the GRS periphery and surrounding areas. Color, contrast, and sharpness have been ...

  21. How NASA Repaired Voyager 1 From 15 Billion Miles Away

    Finally, a Breakthrough. Launched nearly 47 years ago, Voyager 1 is flying on an outbound trajectory more than 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth, and it takes 22.5 hours for a ...

  22. Voyager

    Site Manager: Jon Nelson Webmasters: Anil Natha, Luis Espinoza Webmasters: Anil Natha, Luis Espinoza

  23. After crisis in interstellar space, stream of Voyager 1 data resumes

    It was the ultimate remote IT service, spanning 24 billion kilometers of space to fix an antiquated, hobbled computer built in the 1970s. Voyager 1, one of the celebrated twin spacecraft that was the first to reach interstellar space, has finally resumed beaming science data back to Earth after a 6-month communications blackout, NASA announced this week.