back to article Work to resolve binary babble from Voyager 1 is ongoing

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 …

  1. I am David Jones

    All comments are pre-moderated.

    You can expect your post to appear in the next 22.5 hours.

    1. Bill Gray
      Thumb Up

      No; you can expect your post to be approved in 22.5 hours. It'll be an additional 22.5 hours before it actually appears.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Angel

        Certainly, but it's worth remembering Albert (icon) Einstein's view that "... time is an illusion."!

        1. Chris Miller

          "Lunchtime, doubly so."

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            You should send that to the Reader's Digest - they've got a page for people like you!

    2. Jedit Silver badge
      Boffin

      "You can expect your post to appear in the next 22.5 hours."

      I'm reading this post 22.5 hours after it was made, so that checks out.

      The replies appear to be traveling faster than light, but that's standard for people who think someone is wrong on the internet so again no problems there.

  2. Little Mouse
    Pint

    22.5 light hours distance is seriously impressive.

    There's got to be some kudos in Voyager passing the 1 light-day boundary. Is anyone here willing to do the necessary sums to calculate exactly when that will be?

    I really hope it will still be sending/receiving when it does so.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Alien

      Given that it's got to 22.5 light-hours in ~46 years, that's pretty much 0.5light-hours/year. So I reckon that boundary will be about 3 years away.

      (Assuming by 'day' you mean 24 hours, as opposed to a Martian sol or other equivalent definitions)

      1. Lon24

        Yep,the latency might be pretty poor but it is almost light years ahead of my bank's communication response. They are only two hundred earth miles distant.

        1. NullDev

          Is an "Earth mile" different than a "Mars mile"??

          1. alain williams Silver badge

            That depends on how large Martians are ?

            The Romans defined a mile as 1,000 paces.

            1. milliemoo83

              What would it be in El Reg units?

              1. Atomic Duetto

                Your Imperial Roman mile (Agrippa) is a little over 67 Brontosaurus (asanyfuleknowcenturion!).

                According to NASA (JPL), Voyager One is travelling at 0.567% of the maximum velocity of a sheep in a vacuum, and will take a little over 100 Scaramucci to reach a 24 light hours away

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        No! It's obviously going to pass the boundary on Jan 19th, 2038.

      3. HelpfulJohn

        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.

    2. GregC

      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!

      1. HelpfulJohn

        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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As I've mentioned before, when studying maths at Oxford in 1984 my lecturer in the 3rd year option on error correcting codes I took said he was amazed that we were still able to communicate with voyager .... and 40 years later we still can

    4. Bill Gray

      2026 Nov 19, 02:00 Universal Time

      You nerd-sniped me. JPL provides a really good ephemeris generator (for spacecraft and natural objects) at

      https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons/app.html#/

      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.)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 2026 Nov 19, 02:00 Universal Time

        You remind us (well me, anyway) that in orbital mechanics, *everything* is moving, including the point of reference. Thanks!

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Thus, engineers must wait 45 hours to see if a command has the expected outcome.

    Bit like when I started programming on punched cards.

    Which, come to think of it, was only a year after the Voyagers were launched.

    1. Fred Dibnah

      Only 45 hours? Bah, we had it tough etc. At school we would write out our BASIC on programming sheets, and a week later the sheet, printout, and cards would come back from the local Poly. Oh the joy of opening the bundle, only to read ‘Error in line 2’ :-(

      1. teneriffe trail
        Unhappy

        You guys had BASIC?

    2. teneriffe trail
      Unhappy

      You guys had punch cards?

    3. osxtra

      What if Voyager is suffering from a floor sort?

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Facepalm

    You see what the science and engineering folks at JPL have accomplished in 5 decades.

    Then you see their budget being cut due to political squabbling and ask what the politicians have accomplished in their 3-5 decades of adult life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I initially read that as 3 - 5 years of adult life .... and it made just as much (more) sense ...

      1. HelpfulJohn

        Politicians have an *adult* phase?

        Who knew?

  5. bazza Silver badge
    Pint

    Letter to the Voyager Team

    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 -->

  6. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge
    Alien

    Are we absolutely certain this gobbledegook isn't a message by aliens who have started to use V1 as a proxy? It *is* getting close to where the mass relay should be.

    Paging Commander Shepard!

  7. Ashto5

    Still amazing

    Every thing they do is epic

  8. osxtra
    Angel

    Vger to Earth, Come In, Earth

    "...which resulted in the Telemetry Modulation Unit (TMU) sending a repeating pattern of ones and zeroes back to Earth..."

    Maybe someone out there is trying to talk to us?

    Now where did I put my AFDB?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Vger to Earth, Come In, Earth

      I think it's in the locker with the spare AE-35 unit.

  9. Frank Bitterlich

    Some day way into the future...

    ... 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.

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