The Voyager 1 interplanetary probe was introduced in 1977 and has now attained interstellar space the place it is the furthest-traveled male-made object. It’s hugely exceeded its original mission and carries on to return precious scientific facts, but there is an clear fault which is leaving its controllers perplexed. Onboard is an angle regulate technique which retains the craft’s antennas pointing at Earth, and even though it evidently nevertheless functions (as we’re nonetheless in touch with the probe) and other programs are good, it’s started returning incomprehensible information. Apparently it is created a pattern of reporting random data, or states the antenna just cannot quite possibly be in.
That a 45 12 months previous pc is even now performing at all is testament to the techniques of its designers, and at 14.5 billion miles absent a repair service is impossible nonetheless substantially we’d be fascinated to know about the failure modes of old electronics in room. It’s postulated that they may possibly only dwell with the fault if the program is continue to doing work, concern a computer software resolve, or find some way to use a single of the craft’s redundant devices to keep away from the dilemma. Meanwhile we can relaxation simply in our beds, mainly because we’re however a couple of centuries away from its return as a giant alien sentient machine.
We have featured the Voyager plan a few times prior to listed here at Hackaday, not least when we took a shut appear at just one of its devices.
Many thanks [Jon Woodcock] for the idea.