NASA brought Voyager 1 back online

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After five months of receiving unintelligible data from Voyager 1, NASA engineers have successfully restored communication with the spacecraft, which is now sending clear engineering updates back to Earth for the first time since November 2023. In March 2024, the Voyager engineering team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory identified the root cause of the communication issue: a faulty onboard computer called the flight data subsystem (FDS), which is responsible for packaging science and engineering data before it's transmitted to Earth. The problem was traced to a corrupted portion of the FDS memory that rendered the data unusable. Unable to physically repair the hardware, engineers devised a plan to relocate the affected code to a different part of the FDS memory. They divided the code into sections, stored them separately, and made necessary adjustments to ensure proper functionality. On April 18, 2024, NASA began sending these code modifications to Voyager 1. On April 20, after a 45-hour round-trip communication delay due to Voyager 1's distance of over 15 billion miles from Earth, mission control received confirmation that the fix was successful. The spacecraft resumed sending coherent engineering data, prompting celebration among the mission team. Over the coming weeks, engineers will continue working to restore the parts of the FDS software responsible for returning science data. Voyager 1, along with its twin Voyager 2, remain the most distant human-made objects, providing invaluable insights into interstellar space since their launch in 1977.
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