It's been almost 42 years since NASA sent their two Voyager spacecraft on record missions, and both decades-old robots are still alive. Voyager 1 and 2 are 13.5 billion and 11.1 billion miles from Earth, respectively. NASA engineers need to make sure they are operational for as long as possible, and decided to shut down one of the Voyager 2 heaters, designed to keep its CRS (Cosmic Ray Subsystem) instrument at a comfortable temperature. This was done to save energy, but the CRS itself miraculously still works, though it is well below the temperatures tested over four decades ago.
As both Voyager spaceships penetrate deeper into space than any previously crafted object. NASA has to deal with some unfortunate realities. Space is cold, and the more distance the Voyager twins have from the sun, the colder it gets. After almost 42 years, both machines are now able to withstand cold temperatures well below the presumed limits of their instruments.
Some of the tools are protected against the cold onboard heaters, but the mission team has slowly changed some of these heaters and some Voyager instruments out in the name of energy conservation. The fact that Voyager 2's Cosmic Ray instrument still works despite being unheated is a pleasant surprise to the Voyager science team.
"It's unbelievable that Voyager's instruments have proven to be so robust," Voyager Project Manager Suzanne Dodd said. "We are proud that they have passed the test of time, and because of the spacecraft's long lifespan, we are dealing with scenarios we would never have thought we would encounter, and we will continue to explore all the possibilities we have Even with diminishing power reserves and instrument temperatures of as low as minus 74 degrees Fahrenheit, the Voyager twins are expected to continue to shed light on the Secrets of the Voyager.
Cosmos a few more years before they finally fall silent.