NASA managed to launch off 37 years ago engines "Voyager-1"

NASA receives transmission from a spacecraft that's 13 billion miles away from Earth

According to NASA, Voyager 1 and its sister Voyager 2 continue to communicate with NASA daily. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space, which NASA described as "the environment between the stars", in 2012.

If you tried to start a auto that's been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond.

Voyager 1 and 2 achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September.

Now travelling far outside our solar system, and with its primary thrusters on their last legs, NASA chose to conduct a test on its long-rested back-up system. Back then, the TCM thrusters were utilized in a more constant firing mode; they had never been used in the brief explosions necessary to orient the spacecraft.

As of August, Voyager 1 was almost 13 billion miles from Earth, and Voyager 2 about 11 billion miles out. But because Voyager 1's last planetary encounter was Saturn, the Voyager team hadn't needed to use the TCM thrusters since November 8, 1980. The team was delighted when the results of their test were resoundingly positive. The thrusters were fired for a mere 10 milliseconds, to make small adjusments to Voyager's course.




But after four decades of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers found that the primary thrusters which orient the space probe had severely degraded. With that in mind, NASA made a decision to fire the older thrusters up and see if they could take over the attitude control adjustments.

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test", said Todd Barber, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) propulsion engineer, in a JPL news release.

The additional rocket jets were initially drafted to assist the Voyager 1 spacecraft target its apparatus to planets and moons on its expedition through the solar system.

"The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all", he added, as quoted by Engadget.

Voyager 2 is also on course to enter interstellar space, likely within the next few years, and now, its attitude control thrusters are still functioning well.

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