It's the little rocket engine that could. NASA scientists announced Friday they successfully fired the secondary thrusters on the interstellar probe Voyager 1 — after they'd been dormant for 37 years.
For Voyager 1 to continue sending its signal to Earth, it needs to be facing the right direction. But the probe's primary thrusters have begun to degrade over the years, requiring more power to operate. NASA began to consider the secondary system to direct Voyager's orientation, and on November 28, they sent a signal to Voyager, 13 billion miles away. The signal took 19 hours and 35 minutes to reach Voyager, but NASA had to wait another 19 hours for the signal back from Voyager, confirming the thrusters had successfully fired up for the first time since 1980.
If you tried to start a car that's been sitting for decades, you may not expect it to work. But a set of thrusters aboard the @NASAVoyager 1 spacecraft, which is now in interstellar space, successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use! https://t.co/WkXngWbXBN pic.twitter.com/y7sdXKk3f0— NASA (@NASA) December 2, 2017
Kudos to the scientists, engineers and support staff. Sail on intrepid little spacecraft.— Richard H. Lambert (@rich4ardl) December 2, 2017
Yay Voyager 1!!! Those engineers and scientists (and families of those who have passed) et al who built her must feel very proud 😀— Motor Drift (@motordrift) December 2, 2017
It's a good thing. Imagine how many billions of miles those jumper cables would have to be.— Jim Bohannon (@jimbotalks) December 2, 2017
Those thrusters must have been made by Nintendo, their stuff works decades after use :P— John McCubbin (@MrJohnMcCubbin) December 2, 2017
I can't get a dehumidifier that lasts more than 2 years, but this thing starts up after sitting for 37 years? Awesome!— NO MEAT CONTAINED (@madebyrealchefs) December 2, 2017