Research, Technology

Goodbye Voyager: how we lose contact with the legendary devices

Everything that we see around appeared as a resultBig bang. The countless number of stars and galaxies is amazing, but the search for intelligent life outside the Earth has not been successful. It seems that we are drifting alone in the ocean of space without any purpose and meaning. But does this mean that there is no one else in the universe? The famous astronomer Carl Sagan did not think so and devoted most of his life to the study of the Universe. So, in 1977, he contributed to the development and launch into space of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, on board of which there are gold plates with information about people and our planet. To date, Voyagers have come further than any other spacecraft in history, but we are still alone. NASA engineers recently announced that the legendary probes are nearing the end of their lives. Is it time to say goodbye?

NASA has decided to reduce the power of the probes to a minimum in order to extend their service life by a few more years.

Outside the solar system

The Voyager voyage forever changed ourknowledge about the solar system. Surprisingly, both probes are designed for only five years, and their main task was to study Jupiter and Saturn. Note that 44 years have passed since the launch of Voyagers, but devices are still working. and send scientific data to Earth. At the same time, these space wanderers could not leave the solar system.

Напомним, что границей нашей звездной системы считается Oort cloud - a cluster of small space objects held by solar gravity. NASA says Voyagers will reach the inner edge of the heliosphere after about 300 years, and the final exit beyond it will take nearly 30,000 years.

The heliosphere is a region of near-solar space in which the plasma of the solar wind moves relative to the Sun at supersonic speed.

Today Voyager 1 is at a distance of 23.3billion kilometers from Earth, and of the serviceable instruments, only four are functioning (Voyager 2 has five). Both vehicles were launched from Cape Canaveral in 1977 in the United States. Alas, by 2025 the service life of the Voyagers will expire, and therefore NASA is preparing to say goodbye.

Interesting fact
In 1998, Voyager 1 became the most distanta man-made space object located 6.5 billion miles from Earth, and built-in electrical appliances have stood the test of time, but the energy consumption of the system is rapidly declining.

Researchers believe that by 2030Voyagers are likely to lose contact with Earth. But this does not necessarily mean that their mission is over - the path to the nearest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri, will take about 20,000 years, and NASA experts continue to work with probes.

Unusual signal

Today aba ships are so far away from oursplanet that it takes nearly 22 hours for a radio signal to reach Voyager 1 and just over 18 hours for Voyager 2. These conditions will persist even when moving at the speed of light, however, the study of the sent data is slow and difficult: our planet is a rather noisy place.

Voyager 2 will reach interstellar space in just 300 years, which is incredibly fast by the standards of the universe.

But is it worth it in this case to break the connection with"Voyagers"? According to some astronomers, trying to turn off instruments could be a waste of time and resources. The situation is complicated by the impact of the space environment on the probes - for many years these space wanderers were in the depths of the solar system.

Fortunately, so far communication with the devices has not been lost, and scientists have reported unusual signals received. To be more precise, the AACS (attitude articulation and control system) module does not reflect what what is really happening on board. Responsible for the orientation of the probe and communications antennas, Voyager 1 sent strange telemetry data back to Earth. At the same time, the spacecraft itself is working properly, and its antenna is directed to the Earth.

NASA is beginning the process of shutting down spacecraft systems, according to a Scientific American report.

Recall that Voyager 1 reached "interstellarspace” in 2012, and “Voyager-2” in 2018. According to experts from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the orientation system of the Voyager-1 apparatus began to issue “garbage” telemetry that does not correspond to reality. So scientists have a lot of work ahead of them.

More on the topic: NASA managed to establish contact with the Voyager 2 probe after a mysterious failure

Goodbye Voyager

February 14, 1990, when Voyager 1 was passingpast Uranus, it turned back towards Earth to photograph our planet as a pale blue and barely visible dot. This idea belonged to Carl Sagan, and four years later he shared his thoughts on the meaning of this legendary image in front of an audience at Cornell University.

Think of that pale blue dot.This is our house. This is us. Everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you've ever heard of, everyone has lived their lives here on Earth,” Sagan said in his famous speech.

Voyagers have revealed to us the secrets of the planets of the solar system

Recall that each probe carries goldplates on which information about the Earth is recorded. The disc includes 115 images, greetings in 55 languages, the sound of wind, rain and even a human heartbeat. A nice bonus for aliens will also be 90 minutes of music (provided that the inhabitants of other worlds can decipher the message on the plate).

Alas, not everyone considers sendingVoyagers into space is a good idea. Some researchers are convinced that if the probes ever fall into the hands of intelligent beings, humanity may regret the perfect act. British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, for example, believed that in the event of contact with another civilization, humanity would be destroyed.

We previously talked about what first contact with aliens might be like, and the details of their amazing Voyager journey can be found here.

After 2030, Voyagers will likely lose their ability to communicate with Earth.

Carl Sagan, however, thought otherwise, because we already announced about their presence and location inUniverse and continue to do so every day. “Our radio signals travel around at the speed of light, announcing to every star that there is intelligent life on Earth,” said the astrophysicist.

One of the reasons we're still lonelyis the accelerating expansion of the universe: every second the galaxies are moving further away from us, and the chances of contacting someone else seem to be zero. But you should not be upset - if the Voyagers ever fall into the hands of aliens, these creatures will not feel lonely. And this is already a lot.

Don't Miss: In Search of Interstellar Monuments or What's Left of Us?

Gas giants in the lens of Voyager probes showed us the solar system

In conclusion, I note that the Voyagers are oneone of the greatest achievements of mankind. Sooner or later, the Sun will destroy all the planets surrounding it, but thanks to the probes, the memory of us will forever remain in the history of the Universe. What do you think, will we establish contact with the inhabitants of other worlds? And if so, what will it be? The answer, as always, we will wait here and in the comments to this article.