However, in today’s dose of good news, NASA reported that engineers had located the source of the junk data: The AACS had started sending the telemetry data through an onboard computer known to have stopped working years ago, and the computer corrupted the information.
A bad command from another onboard computer
Suzanne Dodd, Voyager’s project manager, said that when they suspected this was the issue, they opted to try a low-risk solution: commanding the AACS to resume sending the data to the correct computer.
The solution was low-risk but time-consuming. A radio signal takes nearly 22 hours to reach Voyager 1, which was 14.6 billion miles (23.5 billion kilometers) from Earth and growing farther by the second as of August 30.
While the problem has been solved, the team is uncertain why it occurred in the first place.
They suspect the interstellar explorer began routing its health and status telemetry through the dead computer after receiving a bad command from yet another onboard computer. That would suggest that some other problem lurked inside Voyager 1’s computer brains. But, the mission managers don’t think it threatens the spacecraft’s long-term health.
Yet to probe the root cause
“We’re happy to have the telemetry back,” Dodd said in a statement. “We’ll do a full memory readout of the AACS and look at everything it’s been doing. That will help us try to diagnose the problem that caused the telemetry issue in the first place.”