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NASA Space

Voyager 2 Speaking In Tongues 260

dangle sends in an update from the borderland of Sol. "Voyager 2's flight data system, which formats information before beaming it back to Earth, has experienced a hiccup that has altered the pattern in which it sends updates home, preventing mission managers from decoding the science data beamed to Earth from Voyager 2. The spacecraft, which is currently 8.6 billion miles (13.8 billion km) from Earth, is apparently still in overall good health, according to the latest engineering data received on May 1. 'Voyager 2's initial mission was a four-year journey to Saturn, but it is still returning data 33 years later,' said Voyager project scientist Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 'It has already given us remarkable views of Uranus and Neptune, planets we had never seen close-up before. We will know soon what it will take for it to continue its epic journey of discovery.' The space probe and its twin Voyager 1 are flying through the bubble-like heliosphere, created by the sun, which surrounds our solar system."
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Voyager 2 Speaking In Tongues

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  • Re:Orly? (Score:4, Informative)

    by vegiVamp ( 518171 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:21AM (#32126232) Homepage
    Uranus isn't an element.
  • Re:More Like it? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Burdell ( 228580 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:23AM (#32126282)

    It would probably cost a good bit more than that to build a long-range probe that has to work for many years before reaching its target. Also, you have to pay for ground stations and personnel to monitor it for the years it takes to get somewhere. We have no magic "get-there-fast manner" today; in fact, the Voyagers were able to do so much because of a once-in-our-lifetime planetary alignment (the Grand Tour). The NASA New Horizons probe is going to Pluto (and beyond), and it will take 9.5 years to get there (and if the launch had been delayed by another few weeks, it would have taken several years longer because there wouldn't have been a Jupiter slingshot fly-by).

  • Re:More Like it? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:35AM (#32126494)
    You mean like the New Horizons [wikipedia.org] probe currently heading towards Pluto? It's a bit more expensive ($650 million for the lifetime of the program) than your goal. But that not too surprising. In a Space Review article [thespacereview.com] from 2004, it discusses costing $5 million launch costs just to put a small payload in Earth orbit. Since we're talking about escaping Earth orbit, it's going to take a larger (and more expensive) launch vehicle. Ariane 5 launches are up around $100 million, while shuttle launches average out to $450.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:45AM (#32126710)

    For those kinds of speeds it wouldn't matter. Relativistic time dialation doesn't really get going until you are a good % of the speed of light.

  • The relativity calculator at http://www.1728.com/reltivty.htm [1728.com] gives a relativity factor of 1.0000000016077795 for a speed of 17km/sec. If you multiply that all out for the approximate 33 years of travel (back of the envelope style, 33*525600*60), you get about a 1.67 second difference.

    Of course, with the aliens towing in the spaceship, that might be off a bit :-)


  • Re:Ice Giants (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anomalyst ( 742352 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:01AM (#32127024)

    So you'd need to build separate probes to go to each planet, instead of being able to send one probe to many of them.

    Well, no. The outer planet approximate syzygy provided the most efficient profile, mission timewise. You can always gravity sling from one sufficiently massive planetary body to another, using the correct entry and exit vector for the current velocity, it would just take longer to visit them all at this point in time, as you might have to go all the way across solar system to reach the "next" body and then back across again for the next hop.

  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:17AM (#32127362)

    The short answer is no, Voyager's frame isn't different enough to the Earth's for that huge a time dilation to have occurred purely because of that.

    The long answer requires recourse to general relativity, which I'm far too tired for I'm afraid.

  • Re:Garbled how? (Score:3, Informative)

    by i.am.delf ( 1665555 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:03PM (#32128130)
    From what I remember from a tour I had of the DSN facility at Goldstone is that even back then(~2000) that both Voyager 1 and 2 were well beyond the noise background. I think they said it was 9dB below noise even then. The only way they could understand the signals coming back from the probes was by "voting". Basically they would have the probe send the same message over and over and over. The message was then reconstructed by saying Bit #125 was 65 for and 35 against, probably a 1. More than that they also knew the formats of the messages so they would have a good idea of this bit is probably going to be a 1 or a 0 in particular spots. If something has happened with it, it might be impossible to ever reconstruct the messages coming back even if we have them recorded. The signals have only gotten weaker since then because the probes are that much further and their power sources that much weaker. It is absolutely amazing they have been able to keep in contact as long as they have.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @12:38PM (#32128776)

    Out of 500 odd total hours in a month for 70m (there are 3 stations, after all)...

    There aren't a whole lot of missions using the 70m right now (Cassini, New Horizons). Lots more on the 34m antennas, but there's also more of them.

  • Re:Ice Giants (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:27PM (#32129598)

    But you have to understand, just about every mode of travel (actually, I think literally every mode of travel), for a probe, deep space or otherwise, is just some sort of fancy orbit or another.

    I'm pretty sure the Voyager probes are the exception to that, since they're aimed to actually exit the solar system rather than eventually returning.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @01:32PM (#32129696)
    That was Voyager 6. This article is about Voyager 2.
  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:06PM (#32130314) Journal

    Pissaw, young'uns don't know anything anymore; more likely a fried 1452 core sense amplifier. That bad-boy left Earth back when a 1024 Bit, 500 mS static ram was exotic, and yes that is bits not bytes and milliseconds not nanoseconds. Ferrite Core memory was the state of the art back in 1977, when hard-disk drives were the size of washing machines and I was a young'un myself punching Fortran code on to cards.

  • Re:Garbled how? (Score:2, Informative)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:30PM (#32130758) Journal

    The CPU likely started running at 1.79 Mhz, but they've probably dialed that down to save power decades ago; unlikely any form of error-detection was used.

  • Re:Garbled how? (Score:4, Informative)

    by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @02:48PM (#32131140)

    Did you notice that the RCA 1802 page you linked to specifically says that the chip was not used on Voyager?

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