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Voyager 2 Spacecraft Switches to.. wtf.. Backup Thrusters?

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Voyager 2 Spacecraft Switches to.. wtf.. Backup Thrusters?

Postby lehman scott » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:55 am

I couldn't believe this when I read it. It is amazing enough that the Voyager space probes have lasted 34 years and are still sending scientific data back to Earth from the boundaries of our solar system at the edge of interstellar space. But today NASA announced that they have just switched over to the so-far unused set of goddamned back-up thrusters. Not because they have to, mind you, but because the switch will prolong mission life.

Amazing little spacecraft, they are.

Image
This artist's concept shows NASA's two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

November 14, 2011

Voyager 2 Completes Switch to Backup Thruster Set

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Voyager 2 has successfully switched to the backup set of thrusters that controls the roll of the spacecraft. Deep Space Network personnel sent commands to the spacecraft to make the change on Nov. 4 and received confirmation today that the switch has been made.

The change allows engineers to reduce the amount of power that the 34-year-old spacecraft needs to operate by turning off the heater that keeps the fuel to the primary thrusters warm. Although the rate of energy generated by Voyager 2's nuclear power source continues to decline, by reducing its power requirements, engineers expect the spacecraft can continue to operate for another decade.

The switch also allows the spacecraft to use previously unused thrusters as it continues its journey toward interstellar space, beyond our solar system.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are each equipped with six sets, or pairs, of thrusters to control the pitch, yaw and roll motions of the spacecraft. These include three pairs of primary thrusters and three backup, or redundant, pairs. Both spacecraft are now using all three sets of their backup thrusters.

Voyager 2 is currently located about 9 billion miles (14 billion kilometers) from Earth in the heliosheath -- the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind, which streams out from the sun, is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas.

The Voyagers were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/voyager .
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Re: Voyager 2 Spacecraft Switches to.. wtf.. Backup Thruster

Postby vms » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:29 am

To the people that designed and built the Voyagers: Good job.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.--Winston Churchill

The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.--H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Re: Voyager 2 Spacecraft Switches to.. wtf.. Backup Thruster

Postby AD6LR » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:47 am

Might actually outlive most of the people who designed it...
A bad analogy is like a leaky screwdriver....
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Re: Voyager 2 Spacecraft Switches to.. wtf.. Backup Thruster

Postby lehman scott » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:39 pm

this is cool... the Voyager real-time odometers...

http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/index.html

we are about to become an interstellar species....
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
- - Barack Obama

Pessimism of the Intellect; Optimism of the Will.
- - Antonio Gramsci
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