How NASA Repaired Voyager 1 From 15 Billion Miles Away

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All through the 5 months of troubleshooting, Voyager’s floor crew continued to obtain indicators indicating the spacecraft was nonetheless alive. However till Saturday, they lacked perception into particular particulars about the standing of Voyager 1.“It’s just about simply the way in which we left it,” Spilker mentioned. “We’re nonetheless within the preliminary phases of analyzing all the channels and their developments. A number of the temperatures went down slightly bit with this time period that is gone on, however we’re just about seeing the whole lot we had hoped for. And that is at all times good news.”Relocating CodeThrough their investigation, Voyager’s floor crew found {that a} single chip answerable for storing a portion of the FDS reminiscence had stopped working, in all probability as a result of both a cosmic ray hit or a failure of growing old {hardware}. This affected a few of the laptop’s software program code.“That took out a piece of reminiscence,” Spilker mentioned. “What they need to do is relocate that code into a distinct portion of the reminiscence, after which make it possible for something that makes use of these codes, these subroutines, know to go to the brand new location of reminiscence, for access and to run it.”Solely about 3 % of the FDS reminiscence was corrupted by the dangerous chip, so engineers wanted to transplant that code into one other a part of the reminiscence financial institution. However no single location is giant sufficient to carry the part of code in its entirety, NASA mentioned.So the Voyager crew divided the code into sections for storage in other places within the FDS. This wasn’t only a copy-and-paste job. Engineers wanted to switch a few of the code to ensure it can all work collectively. “Any references to the situation of that code in different parts of the FDS reminiscence wanted to be up to date as properly,” NASA mentioned in an announcement.Newer NASA missions have {hardware} and software program simulators on the bottom, the place engineers can take a look at new procedures to ensure they do no hurt once they uplink instructions to the true spacecraft. As a result of its age, Voyager does not have any floor simulators, and far of the mission’s authentic design documentation stays in paper type and hasn’t been digitized.“It was actually eyes-only to have a look at the code,” Spilker mentioned. “So we needed to triple examine. Everyone was trying by way of and ensuring we had all the hyperlinks coming collectively.”This was simply step one in restoring Voyager 1 to full performance. “We had been fairly certain it might work, however till it really occurred, we did not know one hundred pc for certain,” Spilker mentioned.“The rationale we didn’t do the whole lot in a single step is that there was a really restricted quantity of reminiscence we might discover shortly, so we prioritized one information mode (the engineering information mode), and relocated solely the code to revive that mode,” mentioned Jeff Mellstrom, a JPL engineer who leads the Voyager 1 “tiger crew” tasked with overcoming this downside.“The subsequent step, to relocate the remaining three actively used science information modes, is basically the identical,” Mellstrom mentioned in a written response to Ars. “The principle distinction is the accessible reminiscence constraint is now even tighter. We now have concepts the place we might relocate the code, however we haven’t but absolutely assessed the choices or decided. These are the primary steps we’ll begin this week.”

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