(CNN) -- it's an excellent idea to have a backup plan, especially in interstellar space.
NASA scientists needed to reorient the 40-yr-vintage Voyager 1 -- the gap company's farthest spacecraft -- so its antenna could factor towards Earth, 13 billion miles away. But the "mindset manage thrusters," the first option to make the spacecraft turn in space, have been sporting out.
So NASA looked for a Plan B, sooner or later deciding to try the usage of four "trajectory correction maneuver" (TCM) thrusters, located on the lower back side of Voyager 1. However those thrusters had no longer been used in 37 years. NASA wasn't positive they had paintings.
Tuesday, engineers fired up the thrusters and waited eagerly to discover whether or not the plan turned into a hit. They were given their solution 19 hours and 35 mins later, the time it took for the effects to attain Earth: The set of 4 thrusters labored flawlessly. The spacecraft turned and the temper at NASA shifted to jubilation.
"The Voyager group were given greater excited each time with every milestone within the thruster take a look at. The mood was one in every of remedy, joy and incredulity after witnessing those properly-rested thrusters pick out up the baton as if no time had passed at all," said Todd Barber, a propulsion engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"With those thrusters which can be still practical after 37 years without use, we are able to be capable of enlarge the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by using two to 3 years," said Suzanne Dodd, assignment manager for Voyager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Voyager 1 spacecraft thrusters fired up
Launched forty years in the past
In 1977, the dual spacecrafts Voyager 1 and 2 have been launched, sixteen days apart. In September 2013, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft became the primary human-made object to leave the solar gadget, entering interstellar space, the environment between the celebrities.
Voyager 2 lags behind, but in line with NASA, the spacecraft is following the lead of the first Voyager and is on course to enter interstellar space inside the coming years. The pair are nevertheless exploring the outer solar machine and maintain to speak with Earth day by day.
The Voyager missions observed the primary active volcanoes beyond Earth, at Jupiter's moon Io, and hints of a subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa. They encountered Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, wherein information confirmed a thick Earth-like environment; determined the icy moon Miranda at Uranus; and spotted icy-bloodless geysers on Neptune's moon Triton.
The significance of Voyager is the vast amount of know-how of outer area it has furnished and the interest in in addition exploration. That hobby has resulted in the Galileo undertaking to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, as well as the discovery of three new moons around Saturn the use of Earth-based gadgets.
The future of Voyager
due to the success within the strive to check Voyager 1's TCM thrusters, NASA plans to check those on Voyager 2. The want to use them isn't always as instant, but, due to the fact the primary thrusters of Voyager 2 have no longer drastically degraded.
It's far expected that within the year forty,272, Voyager 1 will come within 1.7 light years of an obscure celebrity inside the constellation united states of america Minor (the Little endure or Little Dipper) and in approximately 40,000 years, Voyager 2 will come inside about 1.7 light years of a star known as Ross 248, a small big name in the constellation of Andromeda.