NASA Prays For Miracle As Probe Goes Dark

The first spacecraft to ever leave our solar system’s heliosphere, Voyager 1, is now farther away from the planet than any other man-made object.

As part of the 1977 Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn, it was launched from Cape Canaveral with Voyager 2. After being in operation for 45 years, the probe is now located around 15 billion miles from Earth.

This cylindrical device, which resembles a gigantic space loudspeaker due to its pearly white conical disk, has been transmitting astonishing data for over 45 years. Not only did it set the record for the furthest human-made object ever to travel through space, but it also found more rings around Saturn, identified new moons orbiting Jupiter, and created the first-ever “family portrait” of our solar system that features all of our myriad of unique planets.

The probe, however, has been inoperable since November 14 and has gone black.

Scientists haven’t come to a definitive conclusion as to the problem. Kareem Badaruddin, a mission engineer, said the team is exhausted as a crew from maintaining this fast pace for the past three months, but they keep going because they have ideas and hope.”

However, there is a growing fear among NASA engineers that the spacecraft may not recover successfully.

The probe seems to be receiving and executing orders. However, experts cannot diagnose the issue due to the craft’s failure to transmit data.

The great distance between Earth and the probe and its advanced age further complicates matters.

It takes around 22 hours to deliver a message, and it might take days for the probe to respond once it receives it. Worse still, the probe does not include digital versions of its instructions.

Voyager 1 was spitting odd binary data a few months earlier, so this isn’t the first time it has experienced communication troubles.

The probe transmitted information on its position and orientation in space in May 2022 that disagreed with what NASA understood.

The Voyager 1 crew revealed in December 2023 that the spacecraft’s Flight Data System (FDS) was the source of the problem. A secondary FDS was in place, but it ceased operations in 1981.