If NASA made cars (22 Jun, 2022)

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If NASA made cars (22 Jun, 2022)

Postby aardvark_admin » Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:40 am

This column is archived at: https://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2022/0622.shtml

The Voyagers are still touching base with Earth on a regular basis -- but for how much longer.

NASA says it's having to shut down some more subsystems in order to compensate for the slowly failing nuclear generators these craft use to power their electronics so it's only a matter of time before they go dark and silent.

However, still being operational at nearly 1 light day from home after 44 years in the black void of space is an incredible achievement. Especially when you realise that they were built with 1970s technology.

I wonder if that $16m Bugatti would last as long? :lol:
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Re: If NASA made cars (22 Jun, 2022)

Postby Hiro Protagonist » Wed Jun 22, 2022 8:34 am

My fave bit of Voyager trivia:

The speed of the Deep Space network used to communicate with Voyager has quite limited, in part due to the low power of the Voyager transmitters and the enormous distances involved. High resolution photographs could not be transmitted back to earth in real-time, they had to be buffered on-board and transmitted later. The on-board mass storage was achieved with a digital tape drive. You can read about that here: https://hackaday.com/2018/11/29/interstellar-8-track-the-low-tech-data-recorders-of-voyager/

As the craft moved further from the sun, the photographic exposure times had to increase due to reduced light levels. The cameras were monochrome, so to take a colour image required three exposures, each with a different colour filter. In between Jupiter and Saturn, the software used to manage the digital photography was completely re-written and uploaded to to the spacecraft [just thinking about that process breaks me out in a cold sweat].

One of the issues the imaging software had to deal with was that due to the length of exposures required, and the speed of the spacecraft, the whole spacecraft had to be rotated using its thrusters in order to avoid smearing the image [the cameras were not independently steerable] - while doing this they had to take into account the torque generated by the operation of the digital tape drive.
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Re: If NASA made cars (22 Jun, 2022)

Postby Perry » Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:08 pm

They sure make some great "bits of kit!"
But - as Bruce observes, with their budget,
the impossible gets a bit closer.
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