Is it called the AE35 unit ?
Voyager 1’s attitude articulation and control system (AACS) – kit that helps point the probe’s antenna towards Earth -
and do they have a spare ?
NASA engineers are investigating anomalous telemetry data produced by venerable space probe Voyager 1. A Wednesday announcment states that the probe is operating normally, receiving and executing commands from Earth, and still doing science and phoning home with data. But Voyager 1’s attitude articulation and control system ( …
And yet again, the OAP of space keeps going.
I'd like to think of David Attenborough being the human equivalent.. He's over twice the age of the probe, and has probably travelled as much as Voyager-1
If I had one wish that could be granted, it'd be for D.A to be on an alien world doing what he does best.
Directly quite high but the benefit of the work he has done will more than likely outweigh the negatives. When you compare that with the carbon footprint of many people in rich nations, jetting off everywhere on a regular basis, driving huge cars and the massive amount waste they produce, directly or indirectly I would suggest the David's carbon footprint is very good value.
"I'd like to think of David Attenborough being the human equivalent.. He's over twice the age of the probe, and has probably travelled as much as Voyager-1"
Better yet, the mission was conceived in (IIRC), 1965 with the launch date in mind as the "once in a life time" launch window.. That makes the actual mission only a tad short of 60 years old now. It really was serendipitous that just as the maths and technology was developed to work out it was possible, matched up with the emerging technology (and will) to do it at almost the exact right time to actually launch such a mission. I think the next opportunity for something similar is in about 2150 or thereabouts. Hopefully, we'll not need to repeat such an energy saving route by then.
The first modem I had at home ran at 300 baud in both directions. With patience, I could edit with Emacs through it, after I had thoroughly optimised the termcap for my adm42 terminal. Emacs wad really smart in reusing bits of text already on the screen.
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Who'd 'ave thought forty five year ago we'd all be sittin' 'ere drinking Château de Chasselas, eh?
bandwidth! You were lucky to 'ave bandwidth! We used to all work in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, 'alf the floor was missing, and we were all using t'same IBM knotted string reader....
"Dear me, and they're thinking of doing a software update with 160b/s of bandwidth ?"
Bah - when I was a lad our first 110bps GPO modem was pretty cool (like Voyager is now). Yep, it seemed like 41 hours to fill our teletype room with paper tape output from one computer and then re-input into another computer.
Real FTP! Who needs this internetty thing?
The amazing thing is that it is still working. What other devices with this sort of complexity (for the time it was conceived) are still running?
Very few and I would have thought almost none in this sort of hostile environment.
Is it possible that any of the modern space missions could do the same?
New Horizons might but I think it is highly unlikely, as stuff has got more sophisticated, reliability and longevity has generally decreased.
I'm starting to think NASA's peak wasn't with the moon landings, but was with the Voyager probes. To design something like they did, to operate it like they are, for it to last as long as it has, and for it to still keep going - that can't be bettered I don't think. It really can't..
A pint for the OAP in SPAAAAAAAAAAACE
The unmanned space exploration programme has vastly over delivered. Very impressive!
Knowing what can now be done, one would never send people back to the moon just to do more exploration of it; a rover can almost certainly do just as good a job, for longer and for less money. There has to be another reason to send astronauts somewhere.
" ... tend to want to be returned back to Earth ..."
Not me. There's sufficient Science and fixing-stuff-up to be done on something like Mars to make a one-way trip look enticing.
Should I get bored with a whole new planet to explore, and Mission Control to annoy, there's always the Moon, Mercury, Titan and the Jovian worlds to have fun and adventures on. Return to Earth is for wimps, crybabies and those with a future.
"There has to be another reason to send astronauts somewhere."
Give me a nice toolkit and some spares [together with some window-wipes] and I could fix up all of those little rovers and stationary robots on Mars. I might even be able to find and fix Beagle II.
That's more than *any* robot fixer could do and I wouldn't even need degrees in engineering to manage it. A simple link to the fixy-uppy databases on Earth would suffice.
Though, knowing how lax NASA/JPL and everyone else is at archiving old PDF's of machinery designs I'd be surprised if all of the blueprints are still available.
Humans are "intelligent fingers". With the backing of Central Command they can do far more than can any maintenance robots.
Though they do need some complicated support systems, which is a decided disadvantage.
I remember the supreme joy of my first 28.8 kbps modem. Oh the dizzying speed of connection!
I also remember the 'discussion' with my then MD at work, when he was wondering whether to go for a 28.8 modem rather than a 14.4 modem. I pointed out that the difference in price (about £15 at the time) was insignificant. (He was also the one who bought himself an analogue mobile phone just when digital ones were becoming available.)
"(He was also the one who bought himself an analogue mobile phone just when digital ones were becoming available.)"
Depending on where he was and where he was likely to be, that may have been a shrewd move. Analogue mobiles phones would have dropped significantly in price, have better coverage in general, still worked ok'ish in a poor signal area while the new digital ones would still have been at "early adopter" prices and pretty poor coverage outside of cities and large towns :-)
But it's probably easier than remote support to certain parts of the world (generally defined as a location where they share their screen on which they have remoted into another host and from there remoted into another host which has some access to the device you actually care about), where the latency is so bad that you can type a whole command line before a single character appears, and you get 10% character loss - so you really have to type at one character every 6 or so seconds (substantially longer if one of the characters doesn't make it, since you need to be confident of the timeout and then start again).
At least 41 hours is so much latency that it's "plan the message, send the message, go home for the weekend"
"plan the message, send the message, go home for the [night]"
A fair few commentards, like me, would have worked along very similar lines back in the day.
Write & polish your code. Submit it to the overnight processing queue on the mainframe. Only find out the next day just how badly bugged it all was.
Instant compilation of code changed the very nature of writing code. Previously we tried to get it as correct as we could visually validate it as being correct, then asked the computer if it would graciously spare some time to compile the code. After the transition to pretty much interactive compilation we could offload a lot of the visual checking to the compiler itself.
In my first job, we had overnight batch runs, but there were frequent errors with the cards at the start and the end of each batch job not being set up correctly. I wrote a clever trick (can't remember how it worked now) which meant that the start/end card errors were reduced by 90%.
Which meant that a lot more high priority jobs ran correctly far more often.
Which meant that my low priority jobs frequently didn't get time to run overnight - which meant I often had to wait 36 hours for my job to be returned.
Talk about being punished for doing the right thing...
At school, it was over a week. Someone went to the local Town Hall once per week to deliver the coding sheets and 5-hole paper tape and collected the printouts from the previous week. Due to scheduling, it could be two weeks before you found the typo!
I'm not sure we learned about latency in the terms we think of today. Most likely it only got covered when we learned about mercury delay lines as storage :-)
When I was a student, those taking classes were privileged to be able to use the 20 minute turnaround service (for short stacks) from 7 to 10 PM. Wow! Wheeeeeee! Sadly, I think that incomparable (at the time) speed did lend itself to "shoot from the hip" style, as one tried to fit in one more cycle of debug, submit, swear, repeat into those last few precious minutes before 10PM (22:00).
At school, we wrote programs on prepared 'squared' sheets (one character per square) for transcription by data-entry clerks at the local university. A week later we received a print-out of the programme and the list of errors. Whereupon the programme was 'corrected' (ha ha!) and resubmitted. Eventually, about a month later (or more), the programme compiled and ran.... Then there was the problem of getting the right format for the output. We were only allowed a limited number of sheets. For very valid reasons.
At university, we started with punched tape, then cards, then a terminal; Oh, the elation when a program ran correctly ------>
On a company Assembler course three of us had a fair bit of hands on experience. Our questions tended to stress the lecturer. Come the day of the first compilation run - and the lecturer had a big smile on his face as he gave us back our listings full of errors.
We looked at the listings. Then pointed out that the I/O macro expansion pass was missing - otherwise they would have been clean runs. He was crestfallen. He said that they saved their machine time budget by expecting student's first compilations to have no chance of being clean.
One of the UK universities had a strategy for efficient mainframe scheduling. Any student tray that arrived when there wasn't a processing slot available - would instantly go to the "return" queue. When the student eventually picked up their tray - they would then submit it again. The strategy's success depended on no one hanging about to see if their tray was rejected.
41 hours' latency? Luxury! On my O-Level computing course in 1978 we wrote the code out long-hand in class on Thursday and posted it to Kings' Lynn Tech. Someone at the Tech converted it to punch tape and on the following Wednesday morning we got the school mini-bus to the tech so we could run and de-bug it.
It amazes me that it's still sending after all this time. Even more so that we're still able to recieve it.
It does make me wonder what they've made their capacitors from for them to last this long (considering some start wobbling after 1,000 hours nevermind 276,000 hours and counting.)
IMHO, this is an example of older is better :-)
The Voyager probes were constructed so long ago that the available tech was, by it's very nature, more radiation-tolerant, thermal-cycle-tolerant and generally more electrically and mechanically 'stable' than the much, much 'smaller' fabrication techniques used today.
Anyone want to bet how long a 7nm process part will last in a high radiation environment without ridiculous amounts of shielding, at least from a very weight-sensitive spacecraft's POV.
Also, and I've said this before - muchos kudos to the current Voyager operations team for keeping the things going process-wise, but don't forget the people who went before them, and the folks running the DSN.both now and in the past.
If you feel the need to research something to find some history that can be applied to today's operations, look into the DSN.
I too think the Voyager expeditions are exceptional in their continuing achievements.
The modern argument is to build for a specified lifetime if it makes it cheaper, lighter, faster. Anything more is 'over-engineered'. The opportunities to extend the project beyond the expected lifetime as techniques develop is never part of the original plan.
Some of these space probes have become icons of inventiveness.
The modern argument is that if a product is built to last, you can only sell one once. If it is built to fail, you can sell it over and over and over again. There is actually no problem making incandescent light bulbs that last pretty much forever. However the manufacturers realised that soon they would run out market, so the deliberately conspired to make bulbs that would fail after a certain (short) length of time.
I have a mid-1950s Radiogram, bought second-hand in the mid-1970s. I have a spare set of valves (vacuum tubes), never had to fit one yet. NOR any electrolytic condensor (capacitor). It thunders out the music input from our Virgin box every day.
Thomas Flowers (Colossus) was right.
160 bits per second, and signals take 20 hours and 33 minutes to reach the probe. Yes – that means round trip latency of 41 hours and six minutes.
Pretty sure some off the newest websites run at those speeds and only get away with it because they are relying on your phone etc to have mega powers.
The expected life span of Voyager is, and was, 70-80 years -- the period over which it will have enough power to signal earth. After that the golden plate is expected to last billions of years. The plate is part of the original mission, so you could say that is it's 'expected lifespan', but since this is an IT/computer article, I think that the 70~80 year figure is fair enough.
For some scientists, V1 has already hit it's expected lifespan, since they turned off one of the instruments last year, at around about the expected time.
Some parts of the original mission happened long ago, but it's fanciful to suggest that NASA 'expected' V1 or V2 to suddenly fail after the first part of the mission. They would have been seriously disappointed if one of them had failed early, and they are understandably chuffed that they have lasted so well, but that's not to say that they expected them to fail before the power runs out -- if that had been true, they would have saved weight and money by including a smaller power supply.
It has to be said that NASA really does deserve almost as much kudos for its use of the web (since pretty much right from the beginning of the web) to make so much information about its mission reports and research findings easily accessible to the public, as it does for the actual missions and spacecraft themselves.
Just as an example (but an obvious biggie), you could honestly get lost in the websites for all of the Apollo missions for weeks, and very enjoyably so, and that's only one part of everything they have done before and since.
'As the signal is so strong'
Well, 'strong' is open to interpretation. I found this on the Interpleb:
"Question: What is the signal strength in watts received by the VLBA that is transmitted from Voyager 1? I recall that Voyager 1 transmits at 22 watts and is nearly 20 billion km away, so how weak is the signal here? — Robert
Answer: The answer to your question happens to be included in a story about the VLBA detecting Voyager 1 in 2014. As you said, the radio strength of Voyager 1 is about 23 watts. This signal is directed toward Earth, but since Voyager 1 is about 15 billion kilometers from Earth, by the time Voyager 1’s signal reaches us its power is less than an attowatt, or a billionth of a billionth of a watt.
I respectfully agree with the previous poster, this is truly AWESOME.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are our first interstellar space vehicles. They have both survived 45 years, which is a testament to their engineering and luck. Voyager 2 is not providing the same "incoherent" data as Voyager 1. This was why two and not one Voyager space vehicle were launched. Hopefully, some entity will capture one or the other Voyager and play the "golden record" onboard to discover something about who sent it into space. SNL had a comedy sketch about Voyager back in the day that a message was received on Earth from outer space indicating an alien life form listened to the Voyager "golden record" and replied, "Send more Chuck Berry."
Data is only valid when timing is correct, like "1"'s and "0"'s through a Mother Board. Voyager 1 is the first logically operating vehicle that is so far away from a star's influence upon space-time, that space-time has shifted significantly enough to cause data timing problems. So, make an adjustment for the difference in space-time and we should get back to valid data being received - simple. :)