The Voyager 1 spacecraft has been long travelling through the cosmos for 40 years. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
In the same way you worry that you’re car won’t start after years of it sitting in the garage, engineers were delighted to conduct a successful attempt of using a set of thrusters on Voyager 1 that have been unused for 37 years. The spacecraft’s team had to use a different set of thrusters due to the unfortunate degrading of the spacecraft’s original thrusters.
Voyager 1 is NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, as it the only human-made object that has reached beyond the comfort of our Solar System and delved into interstellar space, the environment between stars. At the time of writing, Voyager 1 has reached a distance of 140 times the distance of Earth from the Sun, travelling at an estimated velocity of 38,000 miles per hour (61,200 kilometres per hour). Within this 40-year journey, the spacecraft has had to keep its antenna continuously pointed at Earth for communication purposes.
To maintain the position of the antenna, the spacecraft uses a series of small devices that produce small pulses, or “puffs”, lasting only milliseconds, called thrusters. Since 2014, the engineers at NASA ...