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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has confirmed that work to resolve a data issue aboard Voyager 1 continues, almost two months since the spacecraft began spouting gibberish. The good news is that engineers can send commands to the spacecraft and have confirmed that those commands are being received. However, the …
Voyager 1 has already passed beyond a light-day as measured by Jupiter and Saturn. As those are most of the Solar System - if one ignores the big bright one in the middle - the probe
is already more than a light-day away. Two if you go by Jupiter's day.
She is, however, unlikely to still be working well or at all when she gets to a Hermian or Cytherean light-day.
Those two are large.
The light-day of Sol, that aforementioned big, bright one, is not so long as those of Mercury or Venus but at about 28 times Earth's Voyager probably won't last that long, either. I calculate that
milestone to be reached around 3,378 A.D. by which time Voyager's power suppply will be extremely low.
She'll possibly still exist but she'll be sleeping.
Based on available information (wiki and online distance converters!)
24 light-hours, 1 light-day, is 25902068371.2 (~26bn) km
22.5 light-hours is 24283189098 (~24bn) km
So Voyager has another 1618879273.2 (1.6bn-ish) km to go. Using a current speed of 17km/s (wiki says!), my maths says it will take 95228192 s, or just over 3 years, to reach the 1 light-day point.
Edit - or, what AC above said!
I did think of actually crunching the numbers, I *like* numbers more than vague hand-waving, but I'm tired and it's dark and I really couldn't be bothered.
Thank you for doing it for me.
Als: That's Science, That Is.
Reproducibility giving the same answer as A.C.
Science is ever so cool. It lets us fly robots past Pluto and land nuclear-powered alien robots armed with death-rays onto other worlds.
You nerd-sniped me. JPL provides a really good ephemeris generator (for spacecraft and natural objects) at
By default, distances are given in AU.
The speed of light is 299792.458 km/s. There are 24*60*60 = 86400 seconds in a day. There are 149597870.7 km in an astronomical unit (AU).
So the distance we're looking for is (299792.458*86400/14959787.7) = 173.1446 AU, about five times further out than Pluto.
Select "Voyager 1" and start running ephems for various time frames, and you get that distance at the time given in the subject line.
(I did this thinking that there was a decent chance that I'd say "it'll reach that distance on date X, but be back within that distance at this slightly later date, then cross it for good a bit later." It's receding from the sun at about 17 km/s, but the earth orbits the sun at about 30 km/s. Right now, and for the next few months, we're catching up to it and the Earth-Voyager 1 distance is decreasing. But it only decreases between late January and late April; the overall trend is, unsurprisingly, toward greater distance.)
There's no shame in losing it; you've been pulling off minor miracles for decades, and supplied far more data for, well, all humanity than was ever planned, with far more impact than was ever imagined. So a big thank you from all of us regardless of the outcome of your latest endeavours, beers owed regardless -->
... an alien race captures Voyager 1 and in their quest to find out what it is and why it doesn't appear to work right any more, they connect a serial terminal to a connector that sits next to something that looks like an UART interface to them. After a few experiments with baud rates and stop bit settings, their screen flickers, and character by character, the following message appears:
No keyboard detected.... press F1 to continue.