Voyager 2 completes switch to backup thruster set

Nov 15, 2011 By Rosemary Sullivant
Artist's concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Voyager 2 has successfully switched to the backup set of thrusters that controls the roll of the spacecraft. Deep Space Network personnel sent commands to the spacecraft to make the change on Nov. 4 and received confirmation today that the switch has been made.

The change allows engineers to reduce the amount of power that the 34-year-old spacecraft needs to operate by turning off the heater that keeps the fuel to the primary warm. Although the rate of energy generated by Voyager 2's nuclear power source continues to decline, by reducing its power requirements, engineers expect the spacecraft can continue to operate for another decade.

The switch also allows the spacecraft to use previously unused thrusters as it continues its journey toward interstellar space, beyond our solar system.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are each equipped with six sets, or pairs, of thrusters to control the pitch, yaw and roll motions of the spacecraft. These include three pairs of primary thrusters and three backup, or redundant, pairs. Both spacecraft are now using all three sets of their backup thrusters.

Voyager 2 is currently located about 9 billion miles (14 billion kilometers) from Earth in the -- the outermost layer of the where the solar wind, which streams out from the sun, is slowed by the pressure of .

The Voyagers were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate.

Explore further: Space debris expert warns of increasing CubeSat collision risk

More information: For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit: www.nasa.gov/voyager .

Related Stories

Voyager 2 to switch to backup thruster set

Nov 07, 2011

(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 ...

Five things about NASA's Voyager mission

Apr 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Here are five facts about NASA's twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, the longest continuously-operating spacecraft in deep space. The Voyagers were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in ...

Voyager Spacecraft Mark Thirty Years of Flight

Aug 20, 2007

NASA's two venerable Voyager spacecraft are celebrating three decades of flight as they head toward interstellar space. Their ongoing odysseys mark an unprecedented and historic accomplishment.

Engineers Diagnosing Voyager 2 Data System (Update)

May 18, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- One flip of a bit in the memory of an onboard computer appears to have caused the change in the science data pattern returning from Voyager 2, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory ...

Recalculating the distance to interstellar space

Jun 15, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists analyzing recent data from NASA's Voyager and Cassini spacecraft have calculated that Voyager 1 could cross over into the frontier of interstellar space at any time and much earlier ...

Recommended for you

NASA rocket has six minutes to study solar heating

54 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —On Sept. 30, 2014, a sounding rocket will fly up into the sky – past Earth's atmosphere that obscures certain wavelengths of light from the sun—for a 15-minute journey to study what heats ...

Cassini watches mysterious feature evolve in Titan sea

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square ...

MOM eyes the limb of Mars after historic arrival

23 hours ago

India's maiden interplanetary voyager, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has transmitted a breathtaking new image eyeing the limb of Mars and its atmosphere against the blackness of space.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Blakut
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
At some point, wouldn't the spacecraft keep their attitude without thrusters? I mean, as they reach deeper space?
Eoprime
5 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2011
... keep their attitude without...


Maybe its upset because of the cold, dark, lonely enviroment. But i dont think thrusters would change that...

On the more serious side: The thrusters are for pitch/roll control to aim the antenna at earth not for propulsion.

Current velo for V1 is ~17km/s Escapevelocity of our Solar system (with all tricks one can think of) is 16,5km/s (wikipedia), no need to get any faster.