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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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  • It's so obivous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by asukasoryu ( 1804858 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:46AM (#32125728)

    Either the probe has been out there long enough to become sentient or this is an elaborate trap set by aliens. Either way, our doom is imminent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:55AM (#32125840)

    All the news articles report pretty much the same, digested, not particularly informative stuff. The mission page [nasa.gov] hasn't been updated in a while, the NASA news item isn't any more detailed [nasa.gov], and the last operations report [nasa.gov] was from March 12. But I did learn this from the operations report: they're running the whole mission on less than 275 Watts of power from the RTG units. Wow.

  • Garbled how? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:55AM (#32125842)

    I wonder if it'd be possible to reconstruct the signal. We know what the signal is supposed to look like, and should be able to find out what's different.

  • Ice Giants (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @09:57AM (#32125864) Homepage

    "It has already given us remarkable views of Uranus and Neptune, planets we had never seen close-up before."

    And, sadly, we haven't been back since. I can't quite bring myself to call this a travesty, but it does seem like a wasted chance to explore some still-mysterious planets. (Granted, it's expensive to send orbiters out there.)

  • Re:Translator (Score:2, Interesting)

    by captain_dope_pants ( 842414 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:12AM (#32126088)
    NASA guy: "So, you've got the tranlator working?" Scientist: "Yes sir, it says 'My hovercraft is full of eels'"
  • Re:Ice Giants (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stormin ( 86907 ) * on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:21AM (#32126246)

    I remember seeing on a TV program about the Voyager project how serendipitous the timing of the launch was - where you could hop from planet to planet to planet using the gravity well of each planet to jump to the next one. Basically the alignment of the planets when Voyager launched made this possible, and such an alignment isn't going to come around again in our lifetime. So you'd need to build seperate probes to go to each planet, instead of being able to send one probe to many of them.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:23AM (#32126286) Homepage Journal

    Just include some of the data in a game DRM key, and it will be cracked in a few hours. Problem solved.

    Or announce a contest. Most anything as a prize, maybe a spacesuit glove or spare antenna? We crack encryption readily in many cases, so I suspect someone can figure out what rolled over or got zapped by a cosmic ray, and this is fixed for another 33 years or so.

    -ps: is Voyager 2 running better than a 1977 Cadillac? Probably. Probably better than a 1977 Mercedes.

  • by antirelic ( 1030688 ) on Friday May 07, 2010 @10:35AM (#32126492) Journal

    Being that I am not a physicist (though I am a big fan), I am asking any physicists out there if they have figured out how much time has passed for the Voyager satellites according to the laws of relativity compared to Earth. From what I understand, they are traveling around 17km/s. How does that work out over a span of 30-50 years from earthling perspective.

    Thanx in advance.

  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Friday May 07, 2010 @11:37AM (#32127706)

    Reading that operations report I was most impressed by these two lines:

    There were 97.9 hours of DSN scheduled support for Voyager 1 of which 61.3 hours were large aperture coverage.


    There were 62.3 hours of DSN scheduled support for Voyager 2 of which 39.3 hours were large aperture coverage.

    Wow -- that's an incredible amount of Deep Space Network [nasa.gov] time in a week -- and, looking at earlier reports, it seems to be representative of the time used in a typical week. I had no idea that the Voyagers were consuming that much DSN time. I assume "large aperture coverage" means use of the 70m dishes -- also an impressive number.

    That much DSN time must be very expensive.

Loose bits sink chips.