NASA spacecraft sends mysterious data from outside our solar system

NASA spacecraft sends mysterious data from outside our solar system


The Voyager 1 spacecraft continues its journey outside our solar system, 45 years after its launch. But now, the spacecraft is sending out strange data, baffling its engineers.

NASA said on Wednesday that while the probe was still operating correctly, the readings from the Expression and Attitude Control System – AACS for short – did not appear to match the spacecraft’s movements and direction, indicating that the spacecraft is confused about its position in space.

AACS is necessary for Voyager to transmit NASA data about its surrounding interstellar environment as it keeps the craft’s antenna pointed toward our planet.

“An enigma like this is kind of on par with the cycle at this point in the Voyager mission,” Susan Dodd, Voyager 1 and 2 project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

The spacecraft is approximately 45 years old, far exceeding what the mission planners expected.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to explore the outer planets of our solar system, and has long been working with predictions and continues to send information about trips back to Earth.

The lead craft left our solar system and entered interstellar space in 2012.

It is now 14.5 billion miles from Earth, making it the farthest human-made object.

From what its engineers can tell, NASA said, Voyager 1’s AACS system is sending randomly generated data that does not “reflect what is actually happening on board.”

But even if the system data indicates otherwise, the spacecraft’s antenna appears to be properly aligned — it receives and executes commands from NASA and sends the data back to Earth.

So far, she said, the system problem has not prompted the old spacecraft to enter “safe mode”, during which it only performs basic operations.

“Until the nature of the problem is better understood, the team cannot predict whether this might affect how long the spacecraft can collect and transmit scientific data,” NASA said.

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