NASA Finds Cause of Voyager 2 Glitch
What a difference a bit makes. NASA engineers believe they have traced the cause of Voyager 2's gibberish to single bit in the spacecraft's memory.
What a difference a bit makes. NASA engineers believe they have traced the cause of Voyager 2′s gibberish to single flip of bit in the spacecraft's memory.
"A value in a single memory location was changed from a 0 to a 1," said JPL's Veronia McGregor.
Voyager 2 left Earth on Aug. 20, 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn. It successfully finished that mission, then flew by Uranus and Neptune before heading into interstellar space.
Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, are both expected to enter interstellar space - the first human-made objects to do so - in the next five years.
Earlier this month, engineers suspended Voyager 2′s science measurements because of an unexpected problem in its communications stream. A glitch in the flight data system, which formats information for radioing to Earth, was believed to be the problem.
Engineers were able to replicate the glitch in a computer lab, showing that a single bit flip was responsible. NASA plans to reset Voyager's memory tomorrow.
The spacecraft is so far away it takes nearly 13 hours for a radio signal from Earth, traveling at the speed of light, to reach it, and another 13 hours to receive a response.
Image: Artist's rendering of Voyager 2 in the outer regions of the heliosphere, the magnetic bubble around the solar system generated by the solar wind. Credit: NASA.