NASA begins shutting down Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977 and have made it deeper into space since

Artistic rendering of NASA’s Voyager catheter in space

An artist’s impression (circa 1977) of the trajectory of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.Space Frontiers / Stock Photos / Getty Images

  • NASA is shutting down Voyager detector systems this year, Scientific American reported.

  • Detectors are on display after 45 years – traffic is a way to keep up until 2030.

  • Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 have made it further away from any other man-made object.

The epic interstellar voyages of NASA’s famous Voyager spacecraft are about to end as the body begins to shut down their systems, Scientific American reported.

The probes were launched 45 years ago, in 1977, and have since exceeded the limits of space exploration. They are further away from Earth than any other man-made object, a record that is likely to remain uninterrupted for decades.

The decision to reduce the power of the detectors is intended to extend their lifespan by a few more years, bringing them to around 2030, per Scientific American.

“We’ve done 10 times warranty on damn things,” said Ralph McNutt, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University’s Laboratory of Applied Physics, referring to initial forecasts that the mission would take four years.

The detectors are powered by radioactive plutonium, which has kept tiny computers on board running for decades.

The power in the system is reduced by about 4 watts per year, per Scientific American, requiring a reduction in power consumption.

“If all goes well, we may be able to extend missions until the 2030s. It just depends on the power. That is the limit,” Spilker said.

Saturn's rings appear in fake color in a photo taken by a Voyager aircraft in 1981.

Saturn’s rings appear in fake color in a photograph taken by a Voyager probe on August 23, 1981.NASA

The primary purpose of the scouts was to fly from Jupiter and Saturn, a mission they soon completed. Then they just went on, sending back images of our solar system and radiating readings from deep space.

In 1990, Voyager 1 captured the iconic “pale blue dot” composite image, a view of the Earth taken 3.7 billion miles away from our sun.

Pale Blue Dot_update

Pale Blue Dot is a photo of Earth taken on February 14, 1990 by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles. This is a reissue in 2020.NASA / JPL-Caltech

More impressive photos taken by the detectors can be seen in the video below.

In 1998, Voyager 1 became the most distant human object in space – 6.5 billion miles from Earth.

The probes are now 12 and 14.5 billion miles from Earth and are continuing, according to a live observation by NASA.

This is beyond what is generally considered to be the limits of our solar system. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012, Voyager 2 in 2018, the first human objects to do so in history.

The wired electronic instruments of the instrument have survived the test of time extremely well, despite its age.

Primitive computers on detectors do not require much power. All data collected by the instruments in Voyager is stored on an eight-piece cassette that is recorded and sent to earth using a machine that consumes about as much power as a refrigerator lamp, per Scientific American.

They have “less memory than the keychain that opens your car door,” Linda Spilker, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Scientific American.

an image shows the eight-track machine on which data is stored in Voyager.

Shipping data is stored on this eight-track machine, which will be at the peak when it is launched.NASA / JPL

As energy on board decreases, NASA will have to decide which instruments will have power.

After 2030, Voyager will probably lose its ability to communicate with Earth. But that does not necessarily mean that his mission is over.

They both carry a “gold disk”, a 12-inch gold-plated disk that carries information about the Earth.

This includes 115 images, greetings in 55 different languages, sounds like air, rain and human heartbeat and 90 minutes of music.

Both sides of NASA's golden record on Voyager spacecraft are shown here.

The NASA gold record for Voyager spacecraft.NASA / Insider

It will be another 20,000 years or so before detectors pass by the nearest star, Proxima centauri, with this scientific life-time capsule per Scientific American.

Read the original article in Business Insider

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