Voyager 2 to switch to backup thruster set

Nov 07, 2011
This artist's concept shows NASA's two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Deep Space Network personnel sent commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft Nov. 4 to switch to the backup set of thrusters that controls the roll of the spacecraft. Confirmation was received today that the spacecraft accepted the commands. The change will allow the 34-year-old spacecraft to reduce the amount of power it requires to operate and use previously unused thrusters as it continues its journey toward interstellar space, beyond our solar system.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are each equipped with six sets, or pairs, of to control their movement. These include three pairs of primary thrusters and three backup, or redundant, pairs. Voyager 2 is currently using the two pairs of backup thrusters that control the pitch and yaw motion of the spacecraft. Switching to the backup thruster pair that controls roll motion will allow engineers to turn off the heater that keeps the fuel line to the primary thruster warm. This will save about 12 watts of power. The spacecraft's power supply now provides about 270 watts of electricity. By reducing its power usage, the spacecraft can continue to operate for another decade even as its available power continues to decline.

The thrusters involved in this switch have fired more than 318,000 times. The backup pair has not been used in flight. Voyager 1 changed to the backup for this same component after 353,000 pulses in 2004 and is now using all three sets of its backup thrusters.

Voyager 2 will relay the results of the switch back to Earth on Nov. 13. The signal will arrive on Earth on Nov. 14. Voyager 2 is currently located about 9 billion miles (14 billion kilometers) from Earth in the "" -- the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind, which streams out from the sun, is slowed by the pressure of .

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User comments : 42

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tigger
5 / 5 (23) Nov 07, 2011
Ahhh the good old days when they built things to last :-)
Pkunk_
3.6 / 5 (28) Nov 07, 2011
Yeah tigger , and back then the anti-nuclear kooks would've howled in protest if they knew they were launching the Voyagers with > 100 pounds of plutonium on them. Good that the green kooks didn't succeed in blocking this and other successful crafts like Cassini , New Horizons.

Plutonium RTG power , always on and ultra reliable. Made for deep space missions.
CHollman82
3.7 / 5 (25) Nov 07, 2011
So amazing that something 9 billion miles away that is leaving the solar system is still under our direct control...
Shootist
2.7 / 5 (21) Nov 07, 2011
Yeah tigger , and back then the anti-nuclear kooks would've howled in protest if they knew they were launching the Voyagers with > 100 pounds of plutonium on them. Good that the green kooks didn't succeed in blocking this and other successful crafts like Cassini , New Horizons.

Plutonium RTG power , always on and ultra reliable. Made for deep space missions.


Those idiots did scream with anguish, or have you forgotten?
kaasinees
1 / 5 (22) Nov 07, 2011
we should create a network of devices that allows communication with lasers, less delay, or maybe they are already communicating with lasers?
douglas2
5 / 5 (11) Nov 07, 2011
kaasinees
we should create a network of devices that allows communication with lasers, less delay, or maybe they are already communicating with lasers?


This is not star-trek! The delay is unavoidable. Round trip time for light (including radio)is over one day.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (16) Nov 07, 2011
So amazing that something 9 billion miles away that is leaving the solar system is still under our direct control...

I find it amazing that they still have any fuel on board after 350000 times using their thrusters. These are not ion drives but the old chemical propellant types. Pretty cool how accurately the use of those resources can be managed (and how well those resources can be contained without leakage).

we should create a network of devices that allows communication with lasers, less delay, or maybe they are already communicating with lasers?

Huh? You are aware that radio waves also travel at the speed of light? How is a laser going to produce less delay?

Delay isn't really problem out there. It isn't like stuff is happening at a frantic pace in deep space.
Doug_Huffman
1.4 / 5 (18) Nov 07, 2011
Good point. Stuff happens at lightspeed there just like here. And there, just like here, ignorance a.k.a. entropy is the irresistible force that can exceed lightspeed.
DontBeBlind
1.9 / 5 (10) Nov 07, 2011
They did cool things back in the day. Now we cant even make it back to the moon. For whatever bs reason they wanna give fact is we have not been back. Look how many technologies came from the push to go to the moon. We need to push to go to mars now. And set up shop on mars. Or at least fake it like the moon landing (joke).
SincerelyTwo
3 / 5 (2) Nov 07, 2011
DontBeBlind,

We can make it back to the moon, and it's very expensive to do so, but more importantly we went back so many times that there wasn't a good reason to continue making the trips after installing the research equipment on the moons surface.

Don't be blind? Why don't you, and everyone else here who is like you, do some research before sputtering nonsense.

And by the way, going to mars is exactly what NASA is gearing up to accomplish next, leaving low orbit maneuvers to privatized space flight (Boeing, SpaceX, etc).
CHollman82
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 07, 2011
we should create a network of devices that allows communication with lasers, less delay, or maybe they are already communicating with lasers?


How would lasers be less delay? What are you talking about?
antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 07, 2011
Look how many technologies came from the push to go to the moon

Like? Name one that has become a real factor down here (No, Teflon was already invented before the space program).

I agree that we should put men on the Moon again (and preferrably a base, too). Or set foot on Mars.
But realistically the number of technologies that _manned_ space exploration has produced to date is close to zero.

These missions will be, at first, more like feasibility tests and gathering of experience in prolonged extraterrestrial stays. Until something actually comes off a manned presence in space, that will be of any use to us down here, it will still take some decades.

javjav
5 / 5 (9) Nov 07, 2011
Lasers are a faster, but in a different sense. They propagate at the same speed that radio waves, (c) but their bandwith is much higher. For example, when sending high resolution images the first bit will arrive at the same time than using radio waves, but the last one will arrive hours or even days before than using radio waves, depending on how much data is in the queue. So lasers as faster, although latency is the same.
In addition, Lasers are directional, so they can produce a stronger signal while expending less energy if talking at very long distances. in fact NASA is already testing Lasers for comunication with next Mars missions
SincerelyTwo
not rated yet Nov 07, 2011
Just to clarify, the way to articulate the point best is to establish the difference between transfer efficiency and transfer speed. Lasers can transmit more information within a specific time interval than a radio signal will, proportionately limited by frequency.

There are draw-backs in requiring line-of-sight conditions, which probably isn't as much of a problem in space for the most part. If the beam is wide enough you can get around dust/dirt that's floating through the beams path.
MaxwellsDemon
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2011
@antialias
But realistically the number of technologies that _manned_ space exploration has produced to date is close to zero.

Most people would read that and think "gee, the space program really is just a big waste of money after all." So let's be very clear here.

For starters, there's no way to sift out the advancements attributable to manned spaceflight efforts from those of unmanned spaceflight efforts, and besides, it wouldn't make any sense to try: the space program is too integrated within itself, and with commercial industry, to isolate such contributions so clearly.

But its contributions are profound, and have played a significant role in the technological superiority of the US over the past half century.

Like pure research, the direct short-term benefits can seem elusive at first glance, but NASA has contributed to the development of the Internet, satellite cellular networks, and Silicon Valley.

The kind of stuff that builds economies.
hopefulbl
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 07, 2011
Look how many technologies came from the push to go to the moon

Like? Name one that has become a real factor down here (No, Teflon was already invented before the



VELCRO
MaxwellsDemon
5 / 5 (4) Nov 07, 2011
Look how many technologies came from the push to go to the moon

Like? Name one that has become a real factor down here (No, Teflon was already invented before the


VELCRO

No, not Velcro. Think more in terms of "spurring advancements in the technological infrastructure that drives modern global civilization" and you'll be closer to explaining why NASA has been such an indispensable asset to the rise of scientific culture.

http://www.sti.na...nfaq.htm
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2011
But its contributions are profound

No doubt about it. That is why I explicitly (and with added emphasis) singled out MANNED spaceflight.

That space exploration probes and sattelites and whatnot are a great boon and have given us many wonderful things is without question.

Manned missions, however, are currently not profitable and have produced nothing of large profit to us down here. This does not mean I suggest that we shouldn't undertake manned spaceflight - quite the opposite.

I'm very much in favor of manned missions and the ISS. Just that we should realize that, currently, the reasons for doing them isn't economical gain (or at least that up to now none has been forthcoming - which may change in the future).

VELCRO

Velcro was patented in 1951 by Georges de Mestral. 6 years before the first sattelite got off the ground.
SincerelyTwo
3.3 / 5 (4) Nov 07, 2011
Few of you seem to understand that private space programs will be going to the moon, which means going to the moon isn't over just because NASA won't do it.

Just about every research or exploration venture humans pursue leads to something new, that in itself is a bad reason to argue for going to the moon. We're already learning new things about human anatomy in zero gravity environments while preparing for prolong stays in space.

It's not like all technological advancement stops just because we're not going to the moon. Do any of you pay attention to any other fields in science?

This place is turning into YouTube, FML. I need to find a new science news site.

Repeat: Few of you seem to understand that private space programs will be going to the moon, which means going to the moon isn't over just because NASA won't do it.

Why is it most of you always need the minority to do all of the thinking and research for you?
that_guy
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2011
lighten up sincerelytwo. Science is partly emperical in nature. Even though we can extrapolate that private companies will probably get us back to the moon, it's not like they have done it before. It's not like a private company has even gotten a man safely into orbit and back.

The discussion is based on what has happened, and even optimistically, it will be at least 15 years before a private company gets a man on the moon.
MaxwellsDemon
4 / 5 (3) Nov 07, 2011
Manned missions, however, are currently not profitable and have produced nothing of large profit to us down here.

I'm sorry, but that's an indefensible position. The early manned missions were crucial to the growth of aerospace, which has driven the global economy in recent decades. And the only recent manned missions were Space Shuttle missions, which deployed satellites for telecommunications and defense industry applications which yield huge profits for commercial industry. Additionally the program deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and other tools which advance fundamental science.

The estimate I hear is that the space program yields at least a 700% return, but I suspect that the advantages are incalculable.

This does not mean I suggest that we shouldn't undertake manned spaceflight - quite the opposite.

So ultimately we agree. I suppose we simply differ on how we value "direct profitability" vs "indirect profitability."
S_Bilderback
3.7 / 5 (12) Nov 07, 2011
The new Mars rover to be launched this month has a Nuke, so did the Viking Landers, and a ton of satellites launched by the Russians. Anyone remember the Russian satellite the exploded over the Canadian wilderness about 15 years ago?

Also, "if" we had a laser of modulated entangle photons we could have instantaneous communications.
CHollman82
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 07, 2011
Also, "if" we had a laser of modulated entangle photons we could have instantaneous communications.


No...

I'll see violation of locality functioning in a practical application before I ever believe it...
CHollman82
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 07, 2011
"Because the differences between the different interpretations are mostly philosophical ones physicists usually employ language in which the important statements are neutral with regard to all of the interpretations. In this framework, only the measurable action at a distance - a superluminal propagation of real, physical information - would usually be considered in violation of the principle of locality by physicists. Such phenomena have never been seen, and they are not predicted by the current theories."

There you go. No evidence for this and no theories that predict it either. Sorry S. Bilderback
bluehigh
3 / 5 (14) Nov 07, 2011
Also, "if" we had a laser of modulated entangle photons


In your haste to be a smartarse CHollman, perhaps you missed the word "if". (even though highlighted)

So "IF" entangled photons can ever be used to convey information then YES we could have instantaneous communications. However, within our current understanding this is unlikely.

astro_optics
not rated yet Nov 07, 2011
This thing is 1/2 a light-day away...not bad!
CHollman82
1.9 / 5 (13) Nov 07, 2011
Also, "if" we had a laser of modulated entangle photons


In your haste to be a smartarse CHollman, perhaps you missed the word "if". (even though highlighted)

So "IF" entangled photons can ever be used to convey information then YES we could have instantaneous communications. However, within our current understanding this is unlikely.


No... he said "if we had a laser of entangled photons"... Entanglement is a real phenomenon and has been experimentally verified, so we could probably make such a laser if we thought there was any reason to. The part you and he are wrong about is that the property of entanglement cannot be used to transfer information faster than the speed of light.
eachus
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 07, 2011
There you go. No evidence for this and no theories that predict it either. S. Bilderback


Sorry, that must have been written by an elderly scientist. There is a superluminal method involving entangled photons that needs to be tested. Theory says it works.

Generate 1000 (or some moderate number) of entangled photons. Send the two sets to separate stations which need not be at the same distance. Choose a direction (up-down or side to side) and measure the polarization at station A, before the photons arrive at station B. At station B measure the polarization of 500 in the up-down direction and the other 500 side-to-side. The two measured distributions will be different. Split the population into say 40 sub-tests, one distribution will be strictly binary, the other samples are biased by the actual angles of the photon compared to the measured angle. Decide which is which, and you have transmitted one superluminal bit.

Doing this will be tough, but it should work.
CHollman82
2.3 / 5 (12) Nov 07, 2011

Sorry, that must have been written by an elderly scientist. There is a superluminal method involving entangled photons that needs to be tested. Theory says it works.


Care to provide a real reference rather than a vague description?

Regardless, until you can actually demonstrate information propagating faster than the speed of light I will not believe it. Entanglement is interesting but I am member of the hidden variable club.
ROBTHEGOB
1 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2011
I feel another Star Trek movie on the horizon. Maybe the "Kirk unit" can be repaired.
bluehigh
3 / 5 (16) Nov 07, 2011
The part you and he are wrong about is that the property of entanglement cannot be used to transfer information faster than the speed of light.


A sign of a weak mind is to put words in others mouths. I said
However, within our current understanding this is unlikely.


'IF' brains were explosive then we could not use yours to start even a small fire, does not imply that brains are explosive nor does it imply anyone wants to start a small fire. It means you CHollman, are brainless and nuances of language clearly beyond your comprehension.

eachus
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2011
Care to provide a real reference rather than a vague description?


I'll give you the whole thing: For the case where you test at right angles, the result should be a binary distribution with a mean of 0.5. For the case where you test aligned, the distribution of results for each photon will be binary with a mean of sin x^2, with x random. Since x is a uniform variable over 0 to two Pi, the two probability distributions are very different. You can use higher moments of the sample distributions to select between the two.

Is it possible that if someone actually performs the test, the distributions will turn out identical? Yes, but that would argue for "spooky action at a distance" that knows how the data will be analyzed. I refuse to assume that, just as I refuse to assume hidden variables given all the experiments that denied their existence. Were the variables just shy, and refused to perform in public? Makes as much sense as the spooky action above.
eachus
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2011
One more thing I should add. There is an easy trick using sin^2 cos^2 = 1 to show that the expected value of sin^2 x is 1/2. So both distributions have an expected mean of 1/2 the sample size. But the higher moments of the distributions are very different (as are the distributions) so the math says it works.

Doing the actual experiment may be very tough today. But the gravity wave experimenters are pushing optics to the point where it should be possible to try. In fact one of the LIGO locations may be a perfect location to try this--you have two long tunnels, and lots of vibration isolation. (Or just accept the superluminal neutrino evidence at face value. ;-)
rah
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 08, 2011
Look how many technologies came from the push to go to the moon

Like? Name one that has become a real factor down here (No, Teflon was already invented before the


VELCRO

No, not Velcro. Think more in terms of "spurring advancements in the technological infrastructure that drives modern global civilization" and you'll be closer to explaining why NASA has been such an indispensable asset to the rise of scientific culture.

http://www.sti.na...nfaq.htm


Tang.
CHollman82
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 08, 2011
Care to provide a real reference rather than a vague description?
I'll give you the whole thing:


Care to provide a real reference rather than a slightly less vague description?

By reference I mean something from someone other than you, in case you didn't understand. If you don't understand the importance of providing a real reference then you aren't worth my time.
CHollman82
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 08, 2011
The part you and he are wrong about is that the property of entanglement cannot be used to transfer information faster than the speed of light.

A sign of a weak mind is to put words in others mouths. I said
However, within our current understanding this is unlikely.

'IF' brains were explosive then we could not use yours to start even a small fire, does not imply that brains are explosive nor does it imply anyone wants to start a small fire. It means you CHollman, are brainless and nuances of language clearly beyond your comprehension.



..and you simply aren't worth my time, you are on some petty revenge kick for something I did weeks ago that I don't even remember, probably proved you wrong about something and instead of just accepting it and becoming more intelligent for it you stamp your feet like a petulant child and e-stalk me to speak out negatively against everything I say. Other people have noticed, the downvotes you receive for it are not from me
bluehigh
2.8 / 5 (16) Nov 08, 2011
Sad little pip squeak you are. Just a reality check to see if you remain teachable. Its quite clear that you think the sun shines out your own ass. You don't have the mental capacity to prove anyone wrong! Most of your comments consist of single syllables or negativity such as 'Wrong' or 'No' followed by an opinion or a Wikipedia reference. Paranoia can be added to your mental failings because if you look then there are good ratings (well one or two) to you from me when you refrain from the arrogance and say something sensible and polite. Seeking ratings support for your nasty attitude toward differing points of view counts for nothing. My guess is that most contributors are sick of this confrontation but I have offered you an olive branch and you have declined. So 'Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war'.
SincerelyTwo
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2011
lighten up sincerelytwo. Science is partly emperical in nature. Even though we can extrapolate that private companies will probably get us back to the moon, it's not like they have done it before. It's not like a private company has even gotten a man safely into orbit and back.

The discussion is based on what has happened, and even optimistically, it will be at least 15 years before a private company gets a man on the moon.


Two glaring pieces of information you obviously don't understand is that NASA did it without doing it before so it's not going to be IMPOSSIBLE, and NASA is working with these private companies directly in projects. While it was a first for humanity, going to the moon is not the _most difficult_ challenge humanity will face.

Are those concepts you actually couldn't consider in your own mind? You've got to be kidding. f__k.
eachus
1 / 5 (4) Nov 08, 2011
Care to provide a real reference rather than a slightly less vague description?

By reference I mean something from someone other than you, in case you didn't understand. If you don't understand the importance of providing a real reference then you aren't worth my time.

Would you say the same thing to Einstein about his 1905 papers? In science, they were extrapolations of current results to create new testable theories. The next step was to test them.

This is the way science gets done in reality. You don't have one person making a hypothesis, testing it, and reporting the results. It may/will take decades for this to go from an unconfirmed hypothesis--the current state--to either new physics about entanglement, or to talking to friends on Mars in real time.

Also note, but if you couldn't follow the simple math I posted here, not immediately obvious, the ordered of events for the entangled pair means no time-travel, without invoking a some type of global time.
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Nov 08, 2011
@sincerelytwo

I never said that it was impossible. But it did take several percent of our GDP to do it then. Even now it would optimistically take billions, probably 10s of billions of dollars to do. For private companies to do it, there would have to be a good business case for it, or a lot of funding from NASA.

NASA's funding is conditional upon having some successes, and is also somewhat limited by the fact that NASA has priorities and missions in other areas and it only has so much money.

my 15 year timeline? That is basically a straight timeline based on spacex/bigelow developement speed, assuming the money is already there.

Honestly, it seems like you have your head so far up your ass that you need to set up straw men to knock down...since my original comment already stated the assumption that it could be done, and referenced the private companies doing it.

I think you need some vicodin - your hemmoroids are flaring up.
Ojorf
2.5 / 5 (6) Nov 12, 2011
Good grief this has been brought up so many times. Entangled particles CANNOT be used for faster than light comms, it is a basic property of Quantum Mechanics as well as Relativity. You really have to completely misunderstand both theories to believe it. I really don't know were these crackpots get their ideas. You will wait a long time for a proper reference, as it does not exist.
krwhite
not rated yet Nov 12, 2011
^- LOL at that being 3/5 stars. This audience, I swear.

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