DR. SKY BLOG

Voyager 1 spacecraft sending strange signals back to Earth

Jun 1, 2022, 2:00 PM
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, shown in this illustration, has been exploring our solar system sinc...
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, shown in this illustration, has been exploring our solar system since 1977, along with its twin, Voyager 2. (NASA/JPL-Caltech Photo)
(NASA/JPL-Caltech Photo)

Out in the deep dark recesses of the solar system, the Voyager spacecraft are still operating!

Launched back in 1977, the twin spacecraft are headed in opposite directions in our solar system and are the farthest manmade objects in space.

A one-way signal sent to the Voyager 1 takes some 21.5 hours to get there.

In a more simplistic way, the distance that that signals are traveling are some 14 billion miles from Earth.

The story of the Voyager spacecraft is revealed here.

The journey from Earth to deep space was a series of gravity-assist programs to help boost the spacecraft to its final deep space mission.

Something strange is now occurring with the Voyager 1 spacecraft!

Voyager 1 passed out of the sun’s solar wind heliopause back in 2012 and is now in true deep space. The spacecraft is sending some erroneous number sequences from the instrument that keeps the main antenna pointed to Earth.

Voyager 1 is still within the gravity of the sun, but something is causing the bad data?

What could it be?

The main theory of what the culprit might be, are failing circuitry with the onboard electronics. Or could this be some effects on the spacecraft from cosmic radiation from this unknown part of the outer solar system?

If the electronics were to fail, the craft would send us some fault detection signals, but that is not what is going on.

Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were sent on a similar path, but after they reached Saturn they each took a different path in the solar system.

Voyager 2 is still working just fine and a signal to reach it takes nearly 18 hours one way.

Here are the exact locations of each spacecraft in the night sky and the live data on its position:

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.

More information on the Voyager missions.

There is a really interesting connection to the “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” in which the Hollywood Voyager 6 is known as the energy source “VGER”

Here is the video of that motion picture event.

So much has been learned with the great unmanned spacecraft that have been launch into space. They perform a great service in ways that humans cannot at this time and here is a list of the many unmanned spacecraft that have been launched into space.

Voyager 1 and 2 had a special record or old-style LP onboard; there is also music from the late great Chuck Berry.

And finally, here is a listing of future unmanned spacecraft.

If you ever wondered what the sounds of space are like from Voyager 1, listen here.

Clear skies!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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Voyager 1 spacecraft sending strange signals back to Earth