Spacecraft farthest from humans are sending strange signals from outside our solar system

On September 5, 1977, NASA launched a space probe called Traveler 1 into the universe. Nearly 45 years later, to the astonishment of astronomers around the world, this bird still comes alive as it travels far and wide. Pluto.

In fact, Voyager 1 has traveled far beyond the edge of our solar system – now giving strange readings that scientists are striving to understand.

The mystery likely has something to do with the fact that Voyager 1 is the furthest man-made object in space. At a distance of 14.5 billion miles from Earth, Voyager 1 passed through the heliosphere in 2012, the sun is the barrier that separates the solar wind from the interstellar medium, that is, all the matter and radiation in space between the different solar systems of the galaxy. . This means that Voyager 1 is actually located in the interstellar void of the Milky Way.

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This may have something to do with why Jimmy Carter’s era machine sends out signals that could be described as strange.

“The interstellar explorer operates normally, receiving and carrying out commands from Earth, as well as collecting and returning scientific data,” NASA explained on its website. “But the Expression Probe Position and Control System (AACS) readings do not reflect what is actually happening on board.”

“We’re also in interstellar space – a highly radioactive environment that no spacecraft has flown into before.”

More specifically, NASA explained, the AACS keeps the spacecraft’s antenna pointed at Earth so that it transmits the data back to our planet. On the surface, AACS seems to keep working, but all the telemetry data it sends back is invalid, as if it was randomly generated or physically impossible. This raises questions.

“An enigma like this is at the same level in the cycle at this point in the Voyager mission,” Susan Dodd, Voyager 1 and 2 project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement. “The spacecraft is approximately 45 years old, far beyond what mission planners expected.”

Dodd added, “We’re also in interstellar space – a very radioactive environment where no spacecraft has flown before. So there are some big challenges for the engineering team. But I think if there’s a way to solve this problem with AACS, our team will find it.” .

RELATED: The Voyager 1 spacecraft is now so far away that it can hear the background ‘buzz’ of interstellar space

That wouldn’t be a quick fix. The Earth signal currently takes 20 hours and 33 minutes to reach Voyager 1 and vice versa. Both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 twins suffer from dwindling power supplies, forcing engineers to separate the parts to save as much power as possible. Some expect Voyager 1 to be able to continue transmitting data until 2025, after which time RTGs will not be able to gather enough power to keep their instruments running.

Although Voyager 1 is in its final stages sooner than expected, it still has a historic ride. How it flew past the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, as well as Saturn’s largest moon Titan, got detailed images and unprecedented amounts of data. The Voyager spacecraft is known to contain so-called “golden records” (actually two phonograph records) that preserve Earth’s culture for any extraterrestrials that might stumble upon and swallow them. The gold-plated discs range from the sounds of nature to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Chuck Berry.

In fact, the Voyage 1 probe is now so deep in space that astronomers have been able to literally make it hear a “hum” produced by our solar system as spacecraft travel beyond.

Stella Koch-Uker, a doctoral student in the Department of Astronomy and the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, told Salon at the time about the lead author’s study. “We’re watching the faint, continuous buzz of interstellar gas.”

One of the senior authors—James Cordes, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University—told Salon that “the medium between the stars is like calm or gentle rain. Light rain.”

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