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Old 10-07-2019, 12:48 PM
gary
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A New Engineering Plan for Keeping Voyager 1 and 2 Going

In a press release today by NASA, they discuss new plans by engineers to
try and keep Voyagers 1 and 2 going even longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calla Cofield, JPL, NASA
With careful planning and dashes of creativity, engineers have been able to keep NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flying for nearly 42 years longer than any other spacecraft in history. To ensure that these vintage robots continue to return the best science data possible from the frontiers of space, mission engineers are implementing a new plan to manage them. And that involves making difficult choices, particularly about instruments and thrusters.

One key issue is that both Voyagers, launched in 1977, have less and less power available over time to run their science instruments and the heaters that keep them warm in the coldness of deep space. Engineers have had to decide what parts get power and what parts have to be turned off on both spacecraft. But those decisions must be made sooner for Voyager 2 than Voyager 1 because Voyager 2 has one more science instrument collecting data and drawing power than its sibling.

After extensive discussions with the science team, mission managers recently turned off a heater for the cosmic ray subsystem instrument (CRS) on Voyager 2 as part of the new power management plan. The cosmic ray instrument played a crucial role last November in determining that Voyager 2 had exited the heliosphere, the protective bubble created by a constant outflow (or wind) of ionized particles from the Sun. Ever since, the two Voyagers have been sending back details of how our heliosphere interacts with the wind flowing in interstellar space, the space between stars.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calla Cofield, JPL, NASA
Each of the probes is powered by three radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs, which produce heat via the natural decay of plutonium-238 radioisotopes and convert that heat into electrical power. Because the heat energy of the plutonium in the RTGs declines and their internal efficiency decreases over time, each spacecraft is producing about 4 fewer watts of electrical power each year. That means the generators produce about 40% less than what they did at launch nearly 42 years ago, limiting the number of systems that can run on the spacecraft.

The mission's new power management plan explores multiple options for dealing with the diminishing power supply on both spacecraft, including shutting off additional instrument heaters over the next few years.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calla Cofield, JPL, NASA
Revving Up Old Jet Packs

Another challenge that engineers have faced is managing the degradation of some of the spacecraft thrusters, which fire in tiny pulses, or puffs, to subtly rotate the spacecraft. This became an issue in 2017, when mission controllers noticed that a set of thrusters on Voyager 1 needed to give off more puffs to keep the spacecraft's antenna pointed at Earth. To make sure the spacecraft could continue to maintain proper orientation, the team fired up another set of thrusters on Voyager 1 that hadn't been used in 37 years.

Voyager 2's current thrusters have started to degrade, too. Mission managers have decided to make the same thruster switch on that probe this month. Voyager 2 last used these thrusters (known as trajectory correction maneuver thrusters) during its encounter with Neptune in 1989.
Full press release here :-
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/a-n...xplorers-going
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:01 PM
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Very interesting, thanks Gary
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Old 16-07-2019, 04:12 PM
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Thx Gary it’s amazing how on earth technology has shrunk yet this old tech is still going in extreme conditions.
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Old 16-07-2019, 09:14 PM
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Didn't realise they were firing up those old thrusters.
Just amazing they're still going after so long
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