back to article Voyager 2 'stopped' last week, and not just for maintenance

Voyager 2, the venerable space probe launched in 1977, “stopped” last week. Don't dig up your cache of food or prepare to welcome our Oort Cloud Overlords: the pause is a result of celestial mechanics. As the Tweet below explains, Voyager 2 is heading on its merry way and Earth is swinging around Sol as usual. But last week …

Anonymous Coward

Re: How do the manage the fuel

@ Khaptain

It's a* thermocouple. A* thermocouple stuffed into a lump of something fiercely radioactive. Lumps of fiercely radioactive stuff are warmer than their surroundings as they're heated by their own decay. Stuff one end of a* thermocouple into a lump of fiercely radioactive stuff and you have simple and potentially** long lasting but feeble power source. Verbose quasitechnical crap like "plutonium-powered radioisotope thermoelectric generators" is just "gosh, aren't I clever" for "a* thermocouple stuffed into a lump of radioactive stuff"

* Actually a great wodge of thermocouples. May as well make as much hay as possible while the plutonium shines.

** Life expectancy depends on the half-life of the source and its products and how quickly the various emissions from all that decay destroy your thermocouple(s)

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Re: How do the manage the fuel (without a Science GCSE)?

I suspect a fair number of reg denizens are pre GCSE for a start.

I'm on the cusp. I sat O level maths, then the following year I sat AO maths and GCSE everything else. I much preferred the O/AO format to the GCSE format. Two years later I sat A level maths, chemistry, physics, biology. But I never had a class called "science".

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NSFVoyager2?

Why is that guy not safe for Voyager?

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"Why is that guy not safe for Voyager?"

He probably wants to have sex with it.

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Pint

Golden record...

Narrator: "Time: the future. Place: a distant museum in the Twilight Zone..."

Zog: "This new exhibit came from that crashed spacecraft we found recently."

Zarg: "Any idea what it is ?"

Zog: "We think it's a drink coaster, probably for some form of Djinnan Tonnix as it came with a stick for the olive. Almost certainly a ritual object..."

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Re: Golden record...

... and if we're looking at this in proper "Time Team from Cetea Alpha 5" fashion, what we have is a golden disk that has a specially roughened surface to act as a grippy, load spreading surface so a support post doesn't slip sideways and a small nail used to centralise the post on the disk - accuracy was obviously important. From this we can infer the building was 1m high with a domed and thatched roof with finials and gable ends with a nice kitchenette and an area to play Scrabble ... The height shows the population was very short or worshiped on their knees ... Furthermore, since the disk is corrosion resistant gold and was positioned on the ground, the surface of the planet was marshy and soft, and the population couldn't wait to leave (as indicated by the crude drawing of a solar system on the disk).

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Re: Golden record...

Hmm, I reckon it'll turn up on ET version of the "Antiques Roadshow".

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Re: Golden record...

Hmm, I reckon it'll turn up on ET's version of the "Antiques Roadshow".

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Anonymous Coward

Time Team

I often think that any modern remake of 2001 (I know, but stranger things have happened) should feature Time Team. "....ere....Tony....have a look at this massive black monolith in trench 3".

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Re: Time Team (Stranger things)

> "I often think that any modern remake of 2001 (I know, but stranger things have happened) should feature Time Team. "....ere....Tony....have a look at this massive black monolith in trench 3"."

Stranger things may have happened, but such a movie would inevitably resemble 'Hyperdrive' or 'Red Dwarf'.

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Re: Golden record...

Oh cool, a free Frisbee.

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Anonymous Coward

Will Voyager 2 come back to haunt us as V'Ger ?

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Coat

Re: V'Ger

Surely you mean V-Giny!

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Paris Hilton

Re: V'Ger

How did you lose this ... V-Giny?

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Joke

Isn't it amazing how they managed to build into Voyager the ability to send tweets, 25 years before Twitter was a thing...

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Coat

It thinks it's posting to usenet.

Rather than break the bad news to it, NASA just built an interface on the ground.

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This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

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... 25 years before Twitter was a thing...

Is Twitter a 'thing'?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ... 25 years before Twitter was a thing...

Yes, it's a thing, a very bad thing...

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Re: ... 25 years before Twitter was a thing...

...and it's on the internet too so it must part of The Internet of Things. Definitely a "thing" then.

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Good 'ol MJS(U)-77 pretty good thing.

Yup still working after all these years. Those guys at JPL did a really good job. Of course having the antennas pointed with nice receivers is also important, given that the receiver isn't at 100%.

Shoutout to Wayne and Len (DSN & Radioscience respectively).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good 'ol MJS(U)-77 pretty good thing.

"Of course having the antennas pointed with nice receivers is also important"

That's because everybody was sensible enough not to try putting any AI on board.

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Re: Good 'ol MJS(U)-77 pretty good thing.

Yes, there's nothing wrong with the AE-35 unit. Yet...

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x 7
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What I don't understand is why V-ger (as shown in that Star Trek documentary) made all those funny noises instead of simply playing the record continuously. Did the aliens ignore it?

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Typical short-sighted approach

Power source will run out in 2025, after less than 50 years operation! If they'd thought ahead and bunged in an extra ounce or two of plutonium it could have gone on to the end of the century. Pah! Penny-pinchers!

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Boffin

Re: Typical short-sighted approach

If you add, lets say half a kilo (ounces are only used for buying drugs imo) more plutonium, then you need to add a little more hydrazine for the thrusters to counteract the extra mass.

But then your spacecraft masses a bit more, so the fourth stage needs to be slightly more beefy to get it into the correct orbit, then the third stage has to carry the extra mass of the plutonium, and the extra hydrazine, and the extra fuel in the upper stage, so it needs more fuel, and also extra fuel to lift that fuel...

And so on until your extra half kilo of Pu ends up requiring an extra half ton of fuel in the first stage. The rocket equation is a pain in the bum.

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Re: Typical short-sighted approach

I think the Americans still use groats and rods in space development. Its the only sign of irony in the whole nation.

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Re: Typical short-sighted approach

"The rocket equation is a pain in the bum."

What's needed is for Elon to get a bee in his bonnet about Loftrom Loops.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical short-sighted approach

"I think the Americans still use groats and rods in space development. Its the only sign of irony in the whole nation."

Being serious, American rocket scientists managed to produce equations that did not balance their units by the simple expedient of dividing pounds mass by pounds force to simplify equations.

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Re: Typical short-sighted approach

if your rocket equation is a pain in the bum then surely you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today, or maybe ever.

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Will our future intergalactic overlords, alerted to our existence by this bauble, cut us some slack for preferring vinyl?

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Joke

Perhaps. More likely, they might laugh more at the fact that some still feel digital watches are a pretty neat idea

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Linux

possibly....

Possibly for vinyl, yes, but they'll never forgive Betamax.

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Gimp

"cut us some slack for preferring vinyl?"

We all have our little fetishes.

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Boffin

Pointless Golden Record

Chances of intelligent life finding it in the next 10,000 years and not already knowing we exist? - practically zero.

We've been broadcasting our position for over a hundred years, electromagnetic waves travelling at light speed, which will be detected by intelligent life long before this physical heap of junk gets anywhere close (and I use the heap of junk term lovingly).

We're looking for intelligent life elsewhere by listening, so if we make the assumption intelligent life would be able to figure out the record and stylus then we can also assume they will have figured out how to listen for us too.

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Alien

Re: Pointless Golden Record

Unintentional Radio probably only has about 5 light years range. Intentional Beamed transmissions maybe 100 light years range. They are unlikely.

So other than very near stars, SETI via radio isn't going to work. Also civilisations may only use high power transmissions terrestrial less than 100 years and then only local lower power broadcast, Satellite (very little into space) and cable / fibre.

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Boffin

Re: Pointless Golden Record

Spectroscopic analysis looking for combinations of chemicals that suggest industrial activity rather than natural sources may find Extra Terrestrial Life, if we have a big enough space telescope. I'll be very surprised if a Radio Search works, even if we currently have 100,000 civilisations in the Milky Way using Radio. (assuming too they were using it x 100s or 1000s or 10,000s of years ago, the disk of the galaxy is about 100,000 light years across).

Space is like a quarantine system, for travel and communication, unless there is some sort of FTL Starships and Ansibles possible.

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Alien

Shouldn't be long before...

The Psychlos get hold of the probe and come and wipe most of us out.

Any chance of El Reg flogging Salt Filters along with the nuclear keyrings?

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Joke

Re: Shouldn't be long before...

I'll get started on learning how to fly a perfectly preserved Harrier jumpjet. From scratch. Never know when that might come in handy.

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Huh?

“Command Moratorium Temperature Stabilization Period"

CMTSP ... no use whatsoever.

Can someone lend these guys a Reg Hack to come up with a snappier acronym please?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh?

Voyager Unifying Latent Temperature Using Radio Exemption ®

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Awesome! TOTALLY Awesome!

I remember many days, walking into Bldg 10 at M.I.T. many years ago, and seeing the images of Jupiter become clearer and clearer over the days, seeing the Red Spot become a cyclone, the banding become raging storms; MAGIC. What a journey!

Did I say Awesome?

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One light second a week.

<silently>whoosh</silently>

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The Earthlings declared war earlier today when an unusual projectile obliterated the children's gravimetric observatory in the station's East Wing. The stealthy object was travelling at several kilometers per second in normal space, we deduce therefore that it must possess a terrifying ability to open wormholes in a previously unknown, undetectable manner. (The ridiculous alternative theory that it traveled the entire distance in normal space is an even greater threat, as the ability to traverse many light years and still precisely hit a Station is an unthinkable horror) The War Amarda will be on its way as soon as the equations of relative scale are complete.

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Presumably they will arrive at Earth and be eaten by a small dog?

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Small dog

We should build up a rapid reaction force of small dogs in readiness. They can be trained to eat anything that looks like a space ship. To be on the safe side, we should include some large dogs too, in case our calculations of scale are inaccurate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Small dog

Wait, what? Reaction force sounds like you're trying to Run Away by jettisoning all the small dogs in the opposite direction...

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@ Pointless golden record

Just my view on things...

Chances of intelligent life finding it in the next 10,000 years? 100%

Already knowing we exist? 100%

Keeping us at arms length because they have better things to do? 100%

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