Nasa struggles to fix Voyager 1 spacecraft glitch

Robotic interstellar probe 24 billion kilometres away from Earth is no longer returning communications

This was the first 'portrait' of the solar system and was captured by Voyager 1. The Earth is a tiny dot in the image. Photo: Nasa
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US space agency Nasa this week is trying to re-establish communications with the Voyager 1 spacecraft after it stopped sending understandable messages.

A post by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which runs the Voyager programme of two robotic interstellar probes, said that there was an issue where Voyager 1 is "receiving and executing commands sent from Earth" but a flight-data system computer on the spacecraft is not communicating properly in return.

It usually collects and transmits data back to Earth through the flight-data system, but it has not been able to successfully send "useable" data to engineers at Nasa.

"As a result, no science or engineering data is being sent back to Earth," the Laboratory's Calla Cofield wrote.

Voyager 1 is 24 billion kilometres away from Earth, the farthest spacecraft from home.

The two Voyager craft, since being launched in 1977, are known to be the longest-operating spacecraft.

A social media account for the Voyager spacecraft said: "Voyager 1 is having a bit of trouble with its Flight Data System, but our team is on it."

Nasa says it could take engineers weeks to "develop a new plan to remedy the issue", Ms Cofield wrote in the post.

It poses a unique challenge to rectify the problem because the computers on the spacecraft are decades old, and it takes nearly two days to see if a fix is successful.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 10:40 PM