NASA Picks Up Transmission From A Spacecraft 13 Billion Miles Away From Earth

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Nasa has picked up a transmission from a spacecraft that’s 13 billion miles away from Earth.

The Voyager 1 probe has been zooming through the void for 40 years and is the only human spacecraft traveling through interstellar space, the bleak expanse of nothingness between stars. It uses small thrusters to guide itself a journey through space, firing them in tiny puffs which last milliseconds at a time.

 

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Nasa scientists recently ordered the craft to blast out several puffs to orientate itself and were impressed to see that it obeyed. Voyager 1 used its four back up thrusters to orientate itself so its antennas are facing towards Earth and it can receive more messages in the future.

‘With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years,’ said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Nasa transmitted its orders on November 28 and had to wait 19 hours and 35 minutes until Voyager sent back confirmation that it had received them and carried out the maneuver.

 

“The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all,” said Todd Barber, a JPL propulsion engineer.

Voyager 1 sped past Jupiter and Saturn on its way out of the solar system. It will now continue zooming through space until it crashes into something – or gets picked up by aliens. However, the sheer distances involved means no human currently alive will get to hear about its adventures – because it will soon be out of transmission range.

Culled from the UKMetro

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