Friday, March 11, 2011

To Boldly Go Where No Craft Has Gone Before!

Here is a quick question for you to answer... (didn't know there would be a test when you started reading huh?) Name a science project that was started 30 years ago. The test instruments are still operational along with the platform even though it is now experiencing -400 degrees below zero. Need another hint? It's experiencing huge amounts of radiation and should you wish to send it a message it will take 16 hours! Got it? huh? Did you guess Voyager? Yep! Voyager 1 matter of fact. So why the interest? Well the craft has not been asked to perform any maneuvers since 1990. Last month controllers asked it to perform a 70 degree roll using its gyroscopes, which it did flawlessly.

From the Dvice article:
  • NASA is planning to start having Voyager roll on a regular basis to better detect changes in the solar wind, which is petering out as the spacecraft approaches the boundary with interstellar space. Five of these rolls are planned for the next seven days, with more rolls every week for the next three months..
Have you ever stopped to consider just how mind bending this little craft is? It masses only a little over a half a ton (1,592 lbs), 16 hydrazine thrusters (I suspect long out of fuel), three-axis stabilization gyroscopes and celestial referencing instruments. The scientific payload consists of 11 scientific instruments to study celestial objects. Communications is accomplished over the s and x bands through a 12 foot antenna with a maximum bandwidth as high as 115.2 kilobits per second. Should it be unable to communicate with Earth, Voyager will store up to 62,500-kilobytes of data with a Digital Tape Recorder! (DTR?!!! no way!) All of this is done with less than the amount of power that light five 100 watt light bulbs! Obviously that far out, solar is not possible. Voyager 1 has 3 radioisotope thermoelectric generators each generator includes 24 pressed plutonium oxide spheres which will power the craft until 2025!

Check out the Dvice article here And the excellent Wikipedia reference here

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