Voyager 1 & 2
Two of the most amazing pieces of engineering and technology in modern times!
'Go', because they just keep going!
NASA revealed on Friday that its venerable Voyager 2 probe is currently incommunicado, because the space agency pointed its antenna in the wrong direction. By the time the news was released, the antenna on the spacecraft had been pointing two degrees away from the Earth for over a week. This left it without the ability to …
"No management consoles if you accidentally turn off networking on the remote system"
But, as per the article, they allowed for that by giving it a program to auto-recalibrate and reconnect if comms are lost :-)
Would you need a management console to restore networking if the remote server, by default, waited for the comms for a length of time and if nothing is received, auto-roll back to the previous config?, eg you changed and fat fingered the IP address and lost contact, or downed the wrong Ethernet port?
"Would you need a management console to restore networking if the remote server, by default, waited for the comms for a length of time and if nothing is received, auto-roll back to the previous config?"
Professional networking equipment lets you do this. You can change the configuration and activate it. Then, unless you confirm the change within a definably number of minutes, it will automatically roll-back to the previous configuration.
The equipment still also has a management console, for other issues that might occur (like hardware defects).
"Two of the most amazing pieces of engineering and technology in modern times!
Uhhh... Not sure any computing tech from the early 1970's can still be considered "modern".
That said, we would be hard pressed to find any of our actual modern 2020's tech still running after a same time duration. I'll check back in 2070 and we can compare notes. Cheers to the old-school tech's longevitiy!
That said, we would be hard pressed to find any of our actual modern 2020's tech still running after a same time duration. I'll check back in 2070 and we can compare notes
I would check back myself in 2070 but I doubt I will still be running as I'm Apollo era "tech" myself!
It's still the same technology - what have we invented since the 1970's that wasn't invented for Voyager? Its still the same transistors, same radio technology, we have actually regressed in space technology since then and stuff isn't built to last anymore. All our advances in software technology were developed to support the space program.
All that has happened since then is that transistors have gotten smaller and faster as a result. More transistors means more complexity, but that increased complexity is not doing anything useful these days just running fancy graphics on our fancy phones and introducing more bugs.
BT Space Age Wifi - Our Wifi access points cover 20 light years of space and operate at superfast speeds* so you never have to worry about receiving that important email.
*upto 160 bits, speed will vary at busy times and will gradually get shittier over time as our wifi hotspot moves further away from Earth.
Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that our new Leftpondian Overlords won't have any idea what this is all about, and the joy of prodding TEXT, 6, 0, 6 to get the now&next of what was being broadcast, or p101 for the news headlines, and everybody knew what it meant when "888" popped up in the corner of the screen as a programme began.
Teletext for the win! (and if you're old enough, the carousel was set to pleasing music on BBC 2 out of hours)
> everybody knew what it meant when "888" popped up in the corner of the screen as a programme began.
In Sweden we had 199 and 299 respectively for subtitles on the two public channels (meaning you could in theory watch a show on TV1 with the subtitles from TV2 superimposed to follow both programs); though I remember being very impressed with the 888 service in the UK when I moved there in 1988 - it was a lot more colourful (denoting different speakers and incidental sounds) - Sweden usually only had white-on-black subtitles, usually with the main character as yellow-on-black.
What we also had, that was pretty nifty, was a transparent page with just solid black bars where the regular broadcast subtitles would go on non-Swedish shows, so that you could cover them up in order to practice your foreign language skills.
'twas a simpler time.
"Our polytechnic had a ceefax adaptor on one of the beebs in one of the labs. 1k per page refresh (every minute or so) for the freebie of the week."
I had access to one too. And the software to download as many pages as you wanted to a local disk, just set it going and come back after a coffee or three and get "instant" access to all the downloaded pages :-)
Remember the happy days when the largest packages were 65MB because that was as much as you could through a 56k modem in a dial-up session with the standard two hour limit?
Mind you, I still have a floppy disk (ask your grandparents, kids) with Netscape 0.9c on it. And Trumpet WinSock.
300bps was not adequate. Even for grown-up text. With a start bit and a stop bit, 300bps conveniently converts to 30 characters a second. Or under half of a 80-column line. Of a 24-line display. In practical terms, that's 30 seconds to display the 1st ed UNIX manual page for the 'cat' command, a manual page of twelve lines.
Local terminals were attached to the computer using RS-232 running at 9600bps. In practice that was fast enough for a full page refresh in about a second.
Teletypes gives my engineering brain that special fixx. Absolutely wonderful machines. I've been very close to buying one some time ago. Only reason I backed out was because I simply don't have the space to set it up currently (nor would the neighbors appreciate the noise probably.
I had my own personal one when at uni. I bought it as scrap and discovered a Teletype Service Center in the next town over. Some tech took pity on the kid who brought in a basket of parts, and managed to turn it into a working machine, charging me only $150 (still a good chunk of change in 1973). Never knew who the guy was, but he has my eternal thanks. I ended up working as a Teletype repairman myself as a part time job at uni. Got myself a free mainframe account and some spending money, as well as learning how to repair and adjust my own machine!
That machine served me well through 4 years of undergrad, and was replaced with a VT-05, which I cobbled together (including troubleshooting and repair of a defective backplane and modules) from defective parts while working over the summer at a DEC plant. There's no better way to learn than to take something broken and fix it! The VT-05 lasted me many more years, until it was time to start getting into PCs.
Lawl! True enough :)
Disclaimer: any references to criminal activity are purely fictitious for the sake of bravado!
That reminds me of when my mate wanted to try Doom on his spanking new Pentium 1 (try before you buy). He plonked his rig on the "other desk" in my home office, the other side of the door to my cutting edge *cough* 686. I didn't have a serial cable to hand, so cobbled one together out of three 2-core bits of cut-offs I had laying around, just pins 2 and 3, you know the score. Laplink away!! "Come on" I said "That''ll take a while, let's go in the living room and pretend we're in "Up In Smoke". As I'm stepping over the cable, stretched between the desks and across the door, I mention to him to mind his step when following, I didn't want to have to twist the cables together again after all. Two seconds later I hear the complaining of two PCs moving violently across desk surfaces. I look over my shoulder to see him wobbling on one foot, with the other hooked over the mashed together cable, both PCs teetering on the edge of their respective desk! After unhooking him, Laplink still running! I certainly can twist some bits of copper together :D
Google tells me the average reading speed is 200 to 300 words per minute, which translates to 5 words per second at the high end. If you assume 5 letters and one space per word that's 30 characters per second.
So 300 bps would seem to be well matched for something the typical person is reading along with. It is when you don't want to read all that is being sent but rather pick and choose that it would become painful.
In the first term at Uni we were only allowed to use the teletype terminals. But there were two types, the one everyone wanted had a type head that dropped down after printing so you could see what was being printed. The other type required a manual press of a button to raise the carriage to see anything - very annoying. We quickly found out the magic runes required to get the CRT terminals to route through the Gandalf box to get a usable connection to the PDP-11 - perhaps that was part of the first year test.
30 characters per second is 5-6 words per second is 300 - 360 words per minute -- faster than most people read, even with normal text.
I was reading fiction at 600 words per minute, but I couldn't read MAN pages at that rate -- 300bps was faster than I could read and process technical text.
you jest but wasn't that long ago (ok actually it was) when people punched holes in tape or card for programming computers.
given the technological progression at the time, punched cards for programming was an obvious method
and of course there is morse code.
Ah, you're not familiar with the ASR33 mentioned above. It was a teletype with a tape punch and reader bolted on the left side.
My local tech college had a room with 8 of them connected to the minicomputer that filled the adjacent room and awarded each of the 8 users a massive 8k of core (yes "core", ferrite beads for memory) to play with.
But you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.
I still have a few BASIC programs in a box somewhere on paper tape from an ASR33. That was how we stored or "local" backups for programs we wrote on the CDC mainframe.
It's funny to think just last week we were discussing vendors for backing up our cloud data. The need for local backups never changes.
All of this "cloud" nonsense has just taken us back to the 70's...
Also on a technical point, a very early use of punched paper tape was for teletypes but it didn't really catch on for mainstream computing until the 1970's. Punched cards date back to Jacquard around 1804, the punched card as we now know it was introduced by Hollerith in 1890 for the US census and was adopted for computers by IBM in the early 1960's.
So in every guise, punched tape came after punched cards.
Yes there were much earlier experiments to "program" looms with paper tape but they didn't work very well, broke too easily, were expensive and complicated to make. They had to make the tape thicker and wider and ended up with cards sewn together, after that paper tape was largely forgotten until the telegraph came along.
But as far as computing is concerned, cards came before tape.
I used to fix those modems, favorites were the Prism 2000's as 99.9% of the time the only thing that would fail would be the Voltage Regulators, the Prism 1000's used to suffer mainly from cracked PCBs while in transit & then there were the Voyagers..........
Icon - Fun times.
When we went to 2400 baud, we thought all of our Christmases had come at once!
The last time I had anything to do with baud rates was 1999, when I worked for a large foundary. The server was stolen and dumped in the canal. A replacement server was sourced and after a couple of weeks, I thought everything was back up and running. I received a visit from somebody who wanted to know why his area was down. I didn't recognise him and he said he was from a portacabin, way down the back of the site. He had a Wyse 50 terminal and a printer, connected via two modems running over some copper than had been strung to the server room in the main office block. I had seen these modems in there, but assumed they were left over from something in the past. So I connected them to the server and his equipment started working. Checking, it was running as 1200 baud. I tried 9600, but the connection was unreliable. It worked at 4800 baud and he very impressed at the lightening fast prints.
Hats off to the steely-eyed rocket men who considered the possibility that this might be a useful capability. In case, you know, somebody were to screw up and send Voyager an incorrect antenna-aiming command sequence. Which, of course, would never happen ...
... rocket men who considered the possibility that this might be a useful capability.
And most importantly kept information/knowledge of this very useful capability from the AH accountants who would have said it was not needed, too expensive, etc.
Because how could it be possible that ... somebody were to screw up and send Voyager an incorrect antenna-aiming command ... ?
Eternal kudos to the chaps behind the Voyager missions, their work is truly exemplary.
While I'm not seeing to downplay the technological achievement of the Voyager missions, given the distances involved and speeds involved, Earth and Voyager are functionally stationary in terms of angles & such over short periods. I cba to do the maths but even if Voyager 2 were moving perpendicular to the earth, the angles change incredibly slowly.
It's been in space for 45 years. I expect very few of the original designers are still on the job, let alone still alive.
How do you recruit for a position where the tech is so old, the visibility is so high, and any kind of screw-up makes the international news?
Time for the astronaut's prayer.
Very thorough on-boarding and knowledge transfer, exhaustive documentation and a flight analog running on the ground. It helps that the team is small and on average the people working on the projects had long careers such that iirc pretty much everyone now working on the project still got first hand training from those original to the project
Sometime ago the Museum of Computing in Mountain View were able to get an IBM 1402 mainframe that after decades use was being retired. They had some concerns about whether they could find people to get it running and maintain it - someone suggested putting an appeal for volunteers in the IBM retirees magazine ... within days of publication they were inundated with offers of help! It's now on display and last time I visited they were doing daily demos of it in action.
I worked with a NASA engineer who had been in the Voyager project originally, he never discussed the project but was creating a medical data transmission function for us, something that I have worked on occasionally for 40 years now. It always worked perfectly and is 100% medically reliable. I assume that his creation for us was based on his original efforts in the Voyager program because the data transmission uses no software at all, it's completely digital and reliable so the data transfer rate is not "just data" - every one of the data samples includes a full CRC so any transmission errors are removed when the data is processed in his custom processor free receiver. Since it's all done with IC's (no processors) I still have a few of the original units working 100% after 40 years ... that seems to be the NASA environment.
While in grad school, I took a class on error correcting codes from a prof who was a Big Name in the field. There's a whole book on them (Peterson& Weldon) and they are much, MUCH more than CRC.
And, yes, there's a tutorial on doing it yourself. All you need is a suitable antenna :-)
Well, let's see ...
The distance from Earth is 20 light hours. This is the radius. The angle is 2°.
Using basic trigonometry: tan(2°) = (distance pointing away) ÷ (distance to Earth)
0.03492 = (distance pointing away) ÷ (20 light hours)
distance pointing away = 0.03492 * 20 light hours = 0.6981 light hours = 41.9 light minutes.
The sun is 8 light minutes from the Earth.
Depending on relative orbital position, the distance between Earth and Mars is anywhere from 5 to 20 light minutes.
Depending on relative orbital positions, the distance between Earth and Jupiter is anywhere from 35 to 52 light minutes.
So, to correct for a 2° aiming error, we would need to send a "reflector" somewhere out into Jupiter orbit zone in order to bounce off a signal between Earth and Voyager.
I'd already decided I wasn't going to do this, but you inspired me Draco! So here's the same using AU (Astronomical Units).
Conclusion: agreed, somewhere in between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.
(A) 1 AU = ~150 million km (0.150 billion km)
(B) 1 AU ==> 8.3 light-minutes
(C) Voyager 2 distance (km): 32 billion
(D) Voyager 2 distance (AU): C/A = 213.333' AU
(E) Sanity check, distance in light hours: D*B = 213.333' * 8.3 = 1770.666' lm = ~29.5 lh [seems about right]
(F) Angular error: α = 2°
(G) Error perpendicular to normal (intended direct line)
Opposite (Error) = Adjacent (D) * TAN(α)
Opposite (Error) = 213.333' * tan α = ~7.5 AU = 1.125B km
Error perpendicular to normal = ~7.5 AU
I've really gotta get out more...
because of the distance, 2 degrees is a LONG way and istr the offset is "out of plane" of the planets, which means the antenna is currently pointed at a part of the universe currently pretty much guaranteed to be free of anything human made for a very long time to come.
Downvoted also because while it was fun to watch the little helicopter take it's first short hops on Mars, there's a hell of a lot of engineering behind it. From doing everything possible to keep the weight down (so it can go at all) to having it unpack itself, to having it fly itself (because of the distance between the planets), to having it actually manage to fly and then land in an atmosphere that mankind has only ever experienced through the data sent back by various probes. An atmosphere quite different to that on earth, with gravity different to earth. Oh, and the terrain is epic dust and lots of rocks.
The Opportunity rover was supposed to work for 90 days. It worked for fourteen years.
Quality and pride, right bloody there.
I've been reading science fiction since the 1960's. In almost every novel or short story, the protagonist talks casually about how many light years away the action is taking place. Yet here, in the real world, our most profound effort at exploration, which is and was a crowning technical achievement of the human race, has only traveled LESS THAN A LIGHT DAY.
It is import to realize sometimes how small and insignificant we all are.
32B KM is 1.23 light days away
We seriously need to up our game if we are ever to actually start the space race and reach other star systems, this solar system is pretty dull in terms of diverse habitability.
There is no space race currently in my view.
Saying there is a space race is like saying you’re a professional swimmer but you haven’t made it out of the infant pool and you still need arm bands
This is embarrassing
While some people thought the space race was about exploration with the aim of improving our survivability.
The reality it is solely a military endeavour and these morons are more interested in taking out each others satellites.
Some say adulthood is a myth, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. A lot of humans, especially those in the “leadership” roles, never grew past the school playground
Al Burnett: Go ahead, Houston.
NASA NCO: I've spoken to INCO, and we're no closer to finding this breakdown...are you sure the problem is downstream?
Al Burnett: PKS... [we see Mitch and Glenn cringe] ...still on-line, Houston. Confirming loss of signal downstream.
[Mitch and Glenn look up and slowly turn to Al, looking amazed]
NASA NCO: Roger, PKS...will maintain alternative feed.
Al Burnett: [putting the mic down] What have I done?
Glenn Lathem: [offhand] Bullshitted NASA.
Cliff Buxton: Good man, Al.
Glenn Latham: Everything's fine.
Al Burnett: Except we've lost Apollo 11!
Glenn Latham: Well, except for that.
They have both maintained near enough 100% uptime and have worked continuously, near enough flawlessly, while moving ever deeper into space at an incredibly high speed. They are still able to send highly detailed images back to Earth and receive commands and instructions near enough no problem at all.
Yet they were launched in the late 1970s. Rather primitive (relatively speaking) 1970s tech that is forever frozen in time, non-upgradeable, none of it can ever be patched or replaced. Yet it's still going. Some of the photos sent back in 1979 look like they could have been taken in 2009 because the quality is absolutely immense. It seems to have futureproofed itself absolutely beautifully.
Back when the original Voyager was launched, we were just days away from the Atari 2600 being released. Elvis Presley had barely been dead a month. The late Queen had only just celebrated her Silver Jubilee, and we hadn't yet had a female Prime Minister. We were blasting long distance probes into space, but the mountain bike hadn't yet been invented.
...ever deeper into space at an incredibly high speed.
Well it's relative isn't it?
Compared to stuff on and around the Earth 15,000m/s is quite speedy but on the grand scale of things 0.000052% of the speed of light is almost stationary.
...non-upgradeable, none of it can ever be patched...
Not quite true, both craft have had their software updated several times either to deal with malfunctioning or power hungry hardware or to alter the science performed.
But yes, a stunning achievement from all involved.
"They are still able to send highly detailed images back to Earth ..."
Except that they don't. They do send data but they rarely give us any photographs any more which is a damned shame.
I would realy like them to try binocular vision on some nearby stars and their worlds. Trinocular if the engineers could work Pluto Express into the mix.
It would have been fun to take long-exposure images with both Voyagers, both Pioneers and the Pluto robot all targeting the same objects.
Now, everyone tell me how and why that sort of shenangains are impossible. :)
Could they do parallax on the same star? That would also be so very cool.