Monday, November 14, 2011

Voyager 2 Completes Switch to Backup Thrusters

In an effort to help control power consumption, controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory instructed the Voyager 2 space-craft to switch to it's backup thruster assembly.

The switch will now allow NASA to switch off fuel heaters to the primary thruster package. This will result in a substantial power saving for the 34-year-old spacecraft. This power reduction will lighten the load on Voyager 2's small nuclear power source which now only has to heat the backup thrusters fuel.

Even though the savings are small, it will allow Voyager 2 to operate for another decade. Also it should be noted that the backup thrusters have never been pressed into operation and are therefor completely new even though they are 35 years old.


scbuzz said...

With a 13 hour round trip time and 20 watt transmitter, I find it pretty amazing that they can still carry on a two-way conversation with the Voyagers. What a miraculous pair of spacecraft.

Beam Me Up said...

I KNOW!! I have been into amateur radio for years (n1qaw)and even at 80 or 160 meters, 20 watts is not likely to get you very reliable communications. That they can hear it at all is amazing! Testimony to the size and sensitivity of the dishes! When I read that they had received confirmation of the command and that Voyager reported the switch over a success...I was just floored 35 years old running on what amounts to a couple of light bulbs for power and still doing science!!!!! Your damn straight they are miraculous spacecraft! Great comment! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

These spacecraft were built by the Babyboomers and were taught by the Greatest Generation. A job well done.

Beam Me Up said...

I don't know Anonymous. Apollo 17 ended it's mission in December of 1972. Voyager 2 flew in 1977. Now '77 is past the last Apollo flight but in my mind Voyager was flown not by Apollo protegees but Apollo contemporaries. Am I splitting hairs? Probably, however in my mind the Apollo class think tanks were sidelined in the 80s with the advent of the STS platform which I suspect never had a "let's get it done" mentality.

aota said...

That is so cool that they can still talk to them.

Beam Me Up said...

I know Aota!
Discounting that it's 35 year old tech, it is just plain amazing that two way communications is possible. The distance alone boggles the mind. Yeah, so any time I see that they are communicating with this tiny space explorer, so far away that home is just another star but we will still be in contact, all things being even for another decade. I just feel like saying...yeah! Keep up the good work Voyager and crew!