NASA managed to launch off 37 years ago engines "Voyager-1"

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Now 21 billion kilometres from earth and the only human-made object in interstellar space, Voyager 1 last made use of these thrusters in 1980 when it passed by Saturn.

It uses small thrusters to guide itself a journey through space, firing them in tiny puffs which last milliseconds at a time.

"With these engines that are still in operation after 37 years, we will be able to extend the service life of the spacecraft "Voyager 1" in two or three years", said Suzanne Dodd, project Manager for Voyager at the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

Finally, they all agreed on one possible solution - try to make the over 40-years-old thrusters work so that the spacecraft, situated 13 billion miles away from Earth, can start its orientation. The thrusters had not been in use for 37 years, since Voyager 1 made its trip past Saturn.

Last week, experts learned that the TCM thrusters worked perfectly fine.

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The thruster test went so well, the team will likely do a similar test on the TCM thrusters for Voyager 2, the twin spacecraft of Voyager 1. With this example before them, NASA laid a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2, a kind of time capsule, meant to relate a story of our world to aliens.

Since 2014, engineers have noticed that the thrusters Voyager 1 has been using to orient the spacecraft, called "attitude control thrusters", have been degrading. It takes 19 hours, 35 minutes for information to reach Voyager 1 and another 19 hours, 35 minutes for it to report home, so NASA didn't get the results of the data immediately.

"The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all", he added, as quoted by Engadget.

The plan going forward is to switch to the TCM thrusters in January, it said. Voyager 1 is farther from Earth than Voyager 2, due to differences in their missions and trajectories, at an estimated 141 AU from Earth (1 AU is the distance between Earth and the sun).

Voyager 1 is in interstellar space and Voyager 2 is now in the "Heliosheath" - the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas.

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