L The engineers at NASA managed to fly the spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 for almost 42 years in 1977 – longer than any other spaceship in history. But as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced on July 8, it's time to turn off parts of Voyager 2.
Voyager 2 is more than 18.2 billion kilometers from Earth, but moves at 34,391 miles per hour – that's 16 kilometers per second. The distance is increasing rapidly. According to Voyager 1, in December 2018, it was the second man-made object that penetrated the so-called interstellar space. This happened when it broke through the heliosphere, the bubble of ionized particles that surrounds the solar system.
And it still sends back data collected by radio telescopes in Australia.
But to make sure these vintage probes work As mission engineers continue to deliver the best possible scientific data from outer space, they had to implement a new plan to manage them. Difficult decisions must be made, especially with regard to instruments and engines.
A key problem with both Voyager vehicles is that they have less and less power available over time to power their scientific instruments and the heaters they keep in the cold of space. The engineers had to decide which parts to power and which parts of both spacecraft had to be turned off.
However, these decisions must be made earlier for Voyager 2 than for Voyager 1 because Voyager 2 has a scientific instrument that collects data and draws power as its sibling.