Scientists say that the vehicle is still functioning properly. But on a recent mission, they noticed that readings from the attitude articulation and control system (AACS) for the short term, didn’t seem to match Voyager 1’s movement and orientation.
That suggests that the spacecraft was confused by its location in outer space.
Meanwhile, AACS is essential for Voyager to send NASA data on the surrounding interstellar environment, because the probe’s antenna remains pointing right at our planet.
Quoted from Science AlertSunday (22/5/2022) this, according to NASA, finally made Voyager 1 send data that was generated randomly and did not reflect what was actually happening inside the spacecraft.
Even so, Voyager can still receive and carry out orders from NASA, including sending data back to Earth.
So far a system issue has not triggered the probe into ‘safe mode’, in which Voyager will only perform essential operations.
“Until this issue is well understood, the team cannot anticipate whether it will affect how long the probe takes to collect and transmit science data,” NASA said.
Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager 1 and 2 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and her team hope to find out soon enough what prompted Voyager 1 to send the ‘junk data’.
But in an effort to uncover it, the team itself will experience big challenges. It takes 20 hours and 33 minutes to send a message to Voyager’s current location. So, round-trip messages between the space agency and Voyager took two days.