18.5 billion miles from Earth and we can still get a picture of it from up close!
Boffins still aren’t sure just when the deep-space Voyager probe will cross the line into interstellar space, but new data from the spacecraft makes them believe it’s close. Voyager 1 Explores the 'Magnetic Highway' Voyager 1, which is now more than 18 billion kilometres from the sun, has now experienced two out of the three …
Nah, it will be worse. You will still get asked that every 10 seconds (or how ever often NASA is asking Voyager 1).
Just with a 17 hour delay.
So if you do arrive their and you tell them "we are here!!!!", you will continue to get asked "Are we there yet?" for another 34 hours (17 hours for the question to get to you and another 17 hours for your reply to get back to them).....
And the delay just keeps increasin'!!!
Nah, poor Voyager will have to endure a further 34 hours of questions after finally being able to answer "We're here!".
I.e. 17 hours of questions whilst the answer flitters back to Earth; but of course *during* those hours NASA have still been asking more questions. So assuming NASA stop asking on receipt of "We're here" there is still a further 17 hours of questions in-flight towards Voyager.
Once looked up about the error correcting methods they use to encode the signals and think they've changed the method once or twice as it got further away to take account of greate error rate. Anyway, when I did my maths degree *30* years ago I did a final year option on error-correcting codes and the lecturer even then said it was amazing that NASA were able to get signals from what amounted to a 60W light bulb somwhere near the outer planets ... even more amazing they are still in contact when it must be 4-5x further away!
Probably further now, they've increased receiver power for radio telescopes by linking up the receivers, so receiving won't be an issue.
The problem will be the power supply or system failure, i.e. when the power gets so low that the transceiver stops working (or fails).
"The problem will be the power supply or system failure, i.e. when the power gets so low that the transceiver stops working (or fails)."
More likely a system failure or power supply regulator problem. The probe is powered by three RTG's.
To steal documentation, "The power output of the RTGs does decline over time (halving every 87.7 yrs), but the RTGs of Voyager 1 will continue to support some of its operations until around 2025."
Now, *that* is reliable circuitry! The RTG isn't amazing as is the ability of those ancient circuits of yesteryear to survive such an incredibly harsh environment and continue functioning.
This tiny vessel, this minute speck of metal coasting through the gaping vastness of space, is a symbol of how we human beings, despite our fragile bodies, and our short and puny lives on this planet, have managed to harness our imagination and ingenuity to overcome once unthinkable odds, and lay claim to immortality...
"We're not exactly getting anywhere yet with clever tricks to beat the physics involved, are we?"
Make it a question of, do it or you are extinct, we'd solve the problem in a New York minute, which is well documented to be sub-quantum time.
The time unit is why I'll stick with the threat of being shot in Philadelphia over either having a stroke or throttling half of NYC...
Damn! But, I really should have retired to New Zealand...
" I wonder how long the plutonium powerpacks are good for on them?"
They're rated to 2025. Even money, there'll be a few more years out of them due to over-engineering.
I can kludge together some really robust designs for circuits, but... Damn! That is REALLY good designs, considering the resources available back then.
"Whilst I admire the feat of engineering that is Voyager, I've never seen it have to avoid a controller hurled at it before due to Street Fighter rage.... though, to be fair to it... it is almost older than the controller concept."
Erm, even the mythical Incredible Hulk couldn't manage an arm sufficient to reach either Voyager.
Though, I, the Incredible Bulk may well be able to, due to gravitational boosting... ;)
A decade ago, I retired my father's kitchen television from a year before the probe was launched.
Our very first color television.
It was a GE television, hybrid transistor and kludged solid state circuitry that had a mysterious arc that I never figured out until I scrapped the damned thing and found the carbon trail that would otherwise have never been found.
It finally failed and was replaced.
Interestingly enough, our 1964 B&W console stereo-television still operates. With vacuum tubes in the television and germanium transistors in the stereo. The CRT is gassy in the extreme, the high voltage "flyback" transformer is dodgy at best, due to melting of the insulation, but the thing still works.
Lost out on a bid for a first run RCA television, pure vacuum tube unit. Didn't share the information on how to adjust the ion trap with the bastard that won it by crook. May the neck arc through on him... :/
Old tech isn't bad tech, only dated. Though, dated technology ideas aren't necessarily obsolete. :D
Not quite. It isn't just fading away with 1/r^2 or something like that. The solar wind (blowing outwards) means that the solar system is a bubble with a shockwave on the outside. Give or take a few squillion miles, that bubble has a defined edge and that edge is in a physically meaningful way the limit of the Sun's domain.
"Setting arbitrary limits to a solar system, and trying to determine whether a small man made object has breached those limits, is a fool's errand."
Erm, no. It's not arbitrary limits, it's current knowledge and theory.
Theory and knowledge that is being stretched daily.
Rather unlike your perspective.
No no, all fun and games until we get an insurance claim in.
"Dear earth, my client had just started to move from the lights in his Starbus-9000 when your vintage car came along and t-boned him at about 12 miles per second in a 6 miles per second zone. Please attend the galactic court on 43rd of Julember where we intend to claim damages that you should have been saving for since you launched the thing"
" It hits the wall, Truman Show style... "
Might that not be the problem? It's like a fly trying to go through a window pane:
"It's about to leave the solar system." <bump>
"No, now it's about to leave the solar system." <bump>
"Ok, this is definitely it." <bump>
"Finally closing in on breaching the heliosphere." <bump>
"This time, For Sure!" <bump>
"Auggh! We'll keep looking and tell you when." <bump> <bump> <bump>
Voyager 1 has only five functioning instruments left from its original ten. As the power in its plutonium-238 batteries runs down towards 2050, the instruments will be turned off one by one.
So only about 37 more years to get out into deep space before they have to turn it off.
It is transmitting at about 14k baud, about the speed we used to get when we were just transitioning off of modem that you pushed the handset of your wireline phone into.
Wireline phones - well, we have to go way back into history to explain what those were.
"It is transmitting at about 14k baud, about the speed we used to get when we were just transitioning off of modem that you pushed the handset of your wireline phone into."
I doubt they would be modulating at 14Kbaud, nor are they transmitting at 14kbps either.
AFAIK, normal telemetry at 160bps and 1.4kpbs for transmitting stored data.
Since my school days, I have been following up on news of both the Voyagers, and I loved looking at the amazing pictures of planets, the spacecrafts sent. However, I could never understand one thing, how the heck did it manage to travel so deep in space, without the possibility of being hit by any asteroid or even a small piece of rock like meteorite? Just one hit on its antenna could have made it dead.
Did anyone of you also think same?
Well to misquote a certain space is huge, really huge and empty.
The dangerous bits were the flybys of the planets, thereafter there wasn't going to be much to hit.
Bit now you've mentioned it, I wonder if they had to fudge the calculations of that when they put the programme together.
"Well, sir the chances of the mission failing iside a year due to a mechanical fault are 0.0056%"
"And what are the chances of it hitting something?"
"Oh, they're about...mmmbmmmbmmbmmm"
"What? you sort of tailed off there without giving me an answer"
"Yes. Yes I did."
"Honey, look over there in the no entry zone. I think there's something coming out."
"Impossible. The only habitable planet in there is populated by hairless apes. They can't make a spacemobile, let alone find an onramp to the interstar."
"MY SPACEMOBILE! I'll sue those damn apes for their entire planet!"
Much as I love the visual image of a spacecraft putting the "pedal to the metal" those tiny metal spacecraft have been coasting since BEFORE they past the orbit of the moon. They did use the gravity wells around Jupiter and Saturn to speed up and turn the spacecraft towards their next planet, Uranus. So you could say they are truly Newtonian objects. And thanks to him, they were plotted on the best and most advantageous coasting path possible.
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