Backup Thruster Set Activated on Voyager 2

Mission controllers sent the commands a few days back

By Tudor Vieru on November 15th, 2011 14:01 GMT

Experts with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California, and the agency's Deep Space Network (DSN) confirm that the Voyager 2 spacecraft has received and completed instructions sent to it on November 4, regarding the switch to a backup set of thrusters.

These particular motors are responsible for controlling the roll of the space probe, a capability that is critical for the type of studies Voyager 2 is conducting. It is currently nearly out of the solar system, caught in limbo inside a layer called the heliopause.

This is the very boundary of the solar system, where the influence of the Sun and the interstellar medium beyond even out. The probe needs to carry out a set of rolls in order to analyze its surroundings, but that was increasingly difficult with its 34-year-old thrusters.

The new maneuver will enable it to conduct significant science for decades to come, experts say. It is expected that the decay of its radioactive fuel will keep Voyager 2 going for at the very least another 10 years.
This is how the Voyager 2 spacecraft looks like in space
   This is how the Voyager 2 spacecraft looks like in space
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