NASA fires up Voyager 1 thrusters after 37 years

Dec 03, 2017, 10:10 IST | Agencies

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft -- cruising interstellar space billions of miles from Earth -- was back on the right track on Friday thanks to thrusters that were fired up for the first time in 37 years

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft -- cruising interstellar space billions of miles from Earth -- was back on the right track on Friday thanks to thrusters that were fired up for the first time in 37 years.

The unmanned spaceship was launched along with its twin, Voyager 2, more than 40 years ago to explore the outer planets of our solar system, travelling further than any human-made object in history.

Voyager 1

But, after decades of operation, the "attitude control thrusters" that turn the spacecraft by firing tiny "puffs" had degraded. The small adjustments are needed to turn Voyager's antenna toward Earth, allowing it to continue sending communications.

"At 13 billion miles from Earth, there's no mechanic shop nearby to get a tune-up," NASA said. Experts at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California decided to turn to four backup thrusters that were last used in 1980.

The engineers fired up the thrusters on Tuesday and tested their ability to turn Voyager. Turns out the thrusters worked just fine.

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