Voyager Spacecraft beginning to Power Down

In summary, the Voyager spacecrafts were originally planned for a 4 year mission, but the engineers and scientists saw an opportunity for a longer mission and took it. They made some costly decisions that were not necessary for a 4 year mission. The crafts are powered by thermoelectric power from decaying radioactives, which is also decaying. Voyager 2 is currently 18 billion miles away with a 23 watt transmitter and 12ft. dish antenna.
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Tom.G
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An interesting article on some of the history of, and discoveries by, the 44+ year old Voyager spacecraft s.

The bean counters originally planned a 4 year mission for Voyagers 1&2. However, the scientists and engineers involved saw a golden opportunity that wouldn't repeat for another 176 years.
“But if an engineer had a choice to put in a part that was 10 percent more expensive but wasn't something that was needed for a four-year mission, they just went ahead and did that. And they wouldn't necessarily tell management.”

The crafts use thermoelectric power from decaying radioactives, and they are decaying. There is probably enough power for another 10 years if some of the experiments are shut down.

Voyager 2 is now 18 Billion (18×109) miles away, with a oneway radio link delay of 18hrs. (per the article) using a 23 Watt transmitter and 12ft. dish antenna.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/record-breaking-voyager- spacecraft -begin-to-power-down/

Cheers,
Tom
 
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Tom.G said:
The bean counters originally planned a 4 year mission for Voyagers 1&2. However, the scientists and engineers involved saw a golden opportunity that wouldn't repeat for another 176 years.

“But if an engineer had a choice to put in a part that was 10 percent more expensive but wasn't something that was needed for a four-year mission, they just went ahead and did that. And they wouldn't necessarily tell management.”
That's so fun and cool! :smile:
 
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And they wouldn't necessarily tell management

A good story, but I find that a bit hard to swallow. Somebody had to sign off on the RTG, no? And it's not like you can buy them at "Scooters Bait, Tackle and RTGs".
 

Related to Voyager Spacecraft beginning to Power Down

1. What is the Voyager spacecraft?

The Voyager spacecraft is a pair of unmanned space probes launched by NASA in 1977 with the mission to study the outer planets of our solar system.

2. Why is the Voyager spacecraft beginning to power down?

The Voyager spacecraft are powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) which convert heat from the decay of plutonium-238 into electricity. After more than 40 years in space, the RTGs are reaching the end of their power supply and can no longer sustain all of the spacecraft's instruments and functions.

3. What will happen once the Voyager spacecraft powers down?

Once the Voyager spacecraft powers down, it will no longer be able to communicate with Earth or collect and transmit data. However, the spacecraft will continue to travel through space, potentially for millions of years.

4. How long has the Voyager spacecraft been in operation?

The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched in 1977 and have been in operation for over 43 years. They have surpassed their original mission objectives and continue to provide valuable data and insights about our solar system.

5. What are the major achievements of the Voyager spacecraft?

The Voyager spacecraft have made numerous groundbreaking discoveries, including the first close-up images of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. They also provided evidence for active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io and discovered new moons around the outer planets. Voyager 1 is also the first human-made object to enter interstellar space in 2012.

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