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the_fungible_man t1_j2cbm09 wrote

>Most of these probes have defied their expected deaths...

Nonsense, but par for the course with

No one expected New Horizons to be kaput by 2022.

And since it's been known for some time that the Voyagers' RTG power loss wouldn't become critical before 2025, no one really expected them to have "died" just yet either.

Nearly every interplanetary NASA probe has exceeded its original planned mission duration, sometimes by years, sometimes by decades. They rarely succumb to component failure, most often reaching their end-of-life due to power or propellant exhaustion.


DamianFullyReversed t1_j2d5j21 wrote

Agreed. Probes are over engineered for this (makes sense, you don’t want to spend so much on something that’ll just break down and become useless), so they’re gonna last. :)


jormungandrsjig OP t1_j2c5jpu wrote

We now have five spacecraft that have either reached the edges of our solar system or are fast approaching it: Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and New Horizons.

From close fly-bys of the outer planets to exploring humans' furthest reach in space, these two spacecraft have contributed immensely to astronomers' understanding of the solar system.

Now, the spacecraft will provide better-than-ever measurements of the background of light and cosmic rays in space, trace the distributions of dust throughout our solar system, and obtain crucial information on the sun's influence, complimentary to the Voyagers.


solehan511601 t1_j2e8rhb wrote

I found it fascinating to know those spacecrafts would approach to location of some of well known stars in millions of years later. For example, Pioneer 10 to Aldebaran.


dougola t1_j2duycy wrote

Are any of these craft something that the Webb telescope could find to get a look at? non-astronomy person here.


twputter t1_j2e00qn wrote

Or could you point the Webb to see one of these probes out there? Would be unlikely but interesting.


rocketsocks t1_j2f1jua wrote

They are far too dim. Remember that light falls off with 1/r^2 distance from the Sun, while at the same time the intensity of light received at Earth falls off with 1/r^2 distance from the Earth. For objects in the outer solar system many tens of AU away from both the Earth and the Sun the result is that the distance from the Sun and the distance to the observer (which is usually near the Earth) are similar, since at such scales the Earth and the Sun are very close together. This means that brightness falls off roughly with a relationship of 1/r^4 distance from the Sun/Earth. Meaning that an object 100 AU away is not just 10,000x dimmer than 1 AU away but 100 million times dimmer.

We can just barely see giant balls of rock and ice that are hundreds of km across in the outer solar system, a tiny bit of metal just a few meters across at most is basically invisible to our optical and infrared telescopes.


LLuerker t1_j2ebnn7 wrote

They don’t emit light/infrared. So even if it’s possible to zoom in on things so small, you still couldn’t see them anyway.


McGarnagl t1_j2epk4s wrote

They must reflect light though


LLuerker t1_j2fqdxb wrote

They’re just so far away from any light source is the thing. You’d have to be within human reach of the crafts to faintly see them in the darkness.


KOREA_Beautiful_7777 t1_j2ey9nm wrote

After a very long period of time, if humans can move closer to the speed of light, I think we'll someday retrieve the Voyager and display it at the NASA Museum in the United States


ianindy t1_j2fg0va wrote

It won't take much. The Voyagers aren't even one light day away yet, it will be a very very long time before they are anywhere close to a light year away.


Larkshade t1_j2e73yi wrote

I’m a hazard a guess and say they are in space.


[deleted] t1_j2eb8lr wrote

I am in awe of the people who create the flight plan for these and other space excursions. Ok, so they use computers, but they have to know celestial mechanics in order to program the things. It’s an incredible achievement.


Riegel_Haribo t1_j2dtjhg wrote

Where are they now? You can just screw off with the space com links.

Revised: Aug 19, 2022 Voyager 1 Spacecraft (interplanetary) / (Sun) -31

BACKGROUND See the web-page above for information on the Voyager Mission

TIMELINE 1977-Sep-06 Launch from Kennedy Space Center @ 12:56 UTC 1979-Mar-05 Jupiter closest-approach, Io imaging 1980-Nov-12 Saturn encounter, Titan 1990-Jan-01 Interstellar mission begins 1990-Feb-14 Final Voyager image return 1992-Apr-24 Final two-way tracking measurements 1998-Feb-17 Exceeds Pioneer 10 distance (most distant man-made object) 2004-Dec-15 Crosses solar system "bow shock" boundary 2012-Aug-25 Passes heliopause and termination shock boundary

SPACECRAFT TRAJECTORY: This trajectory is composed of two merged sections:

#1) 1977-Sep-5 to 1981-Jan-1:
      A patched conic mission-design type trajectory in which the conics 
      were constructed to approximately match specific events, such as
      satellite encounters, providing a rough accuracy. 

#2) 1981-Jan-1 to 2100-Jan-1 
      Refit of tracking data spanning 1981-1992 (end of two-way coherent 
      transponder data). Done in 2022 by R. Jacobson (former Voyager
      navigation) using DE440 to generate a new solution and prediction. 

The reconstruction done in 2022 estimated: - Epoch state vector - Constant and stochastic non-gravitational accelerations (to account for the activity of three-axis attitude control system) - Thermal radiation from RTG power sources - Mismodelling of solar pressure- 96 impulsive maneuvers through Feb 1992

Note there has been no new tracking data possible since 1992. This is a different issue from on-board telemetry, which continued beyond that date.

The 2022 update refit the existing old tracking data using modern approaches and standards to allow consistent extrapolation to 2100.

Formal predicted geocentric pointing uncertainty on 2030-Jan-1: RA +/- 1.701 arcseconds, DEC +/- 1.535 arcseconds

This uncertainty is consistent with the new solution's difference with the A54206 prediction made in 1990.

Tracking data used in 2022 solution: Points Type       First point            Last point       residual rms 2366   F2   01-JAN-1981 05:14:00  15-APR-1989 08:09:00  0.133 mm/s 2084   F3   07-JAN-1981 12:15:00  24-APR-1992 14:04:00  0.153 mm/s 5191  PRA   01-JAN-1981 03:52:18  20-JAN-1989 14:13:59  228 m 67  SRA   04-MAR-1989 10:58:56  13-OCT-1991 04:49:30  227 m

Ephemeris / WWW_USER Sat Dec 31 06:48:24 2022 Pasadena, USA / Horizons

Target body name: Voyager 1 (spacecraft) (-31) {source: Voyager_1_ST+refit2022_m} Center body name: Earth (399) {source: Voyager_1_ST+refit2022_m} Center-site name: GEOCENTRIC

Start time : A.D. 2022-Dec-31 00:00:00.0000 UTStop time : A.D. 2023-Jan-01 00:00:00.0000 UTStep-size : 1440 minutes

Target pole/equ : No model availableTarget radii : (unavailable)Center geodetic : 0.00000000,0.00000000,0.0000000 {E-lon(deg),Lat(deg),Alt(km)}Center cylindric: 0.00000000,0.00000000,0.0000000 {E-lon(deg),Dxy(km),Dz(km)}Center pole/equ : ITRF93 {East-longitude positive}Center radii : 6378.1 x 6378.1 x 6356.8 km {Equator, meridian, pole}Target primary : Earth (R_eq= 6378.137) kmVis. interferer : MOON (R_eq= 1737.400) km {source: Voyager_1_ST+refit20Rel. light bend : Sun {source: Voyager_1_ST+refit20Rel. lght bnd GM: 1.3271E+11 km^(3/s2)Atmos refraction: NO (AIRLESS)RA format : DEGTime format : CALEOP file : eop.221229.p230324EOP coverage : DATA-BASED 1962-JAN-20 TO 2022-DEC-29. PREDICTS-> 2023-MAR-23Units conversion: 1 au= 149597870.700 km, c= 299792.458 km/s, 1 day= 86400.0 s

Date\_\_(UT)**HR:MN     R.A.**\_(ICRF)\_\_\_DEC             delta      deldot

$$SOE 2022-Dec-31 00:00     258.76000  12.01263  159.294289399766   7.3891871 
2023-Jan-01 00:00     258.76627  12.01350  159.298442434604   6.9937694 $$EOE

Column meaning:


Times PRIOR to 1962 are UT1, a mean-solar time closely related to the prior but now-deprecated GMT. Times AFTER 1962 are in UTC, the current civil or "wall-clock" time-scale. UTC is kept within 0.9 seconds of UT1 using integer leap-seconds for 1972 and later years.

Conversion from the internal Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB) of solar system dynamics to the non-uniform civil UT time-scale requested for output has not been determined for UTC times after the next July or January 1st. Therefore, the last known leap-second is used as a constant over future intervals.

Time tags refer to the UT time-scale conversion from TDB on Earth regardless of observer location within the solar system, although clock rates may differ due to the local gravity field and no analog to "UT" may be defined for that location.

Any 'b' symbol in the 1st-column denotes a B.C. date. First-column blank (" ") denotes an A.D. date. Calendar dates prior to 1582-Oct-15 are in the Julian calendar system. Later calendar dates are in the Gregorian system.

NOTE: "n.a." in output means quantity "not available" at the print-time.

'R.A.___(ICRF)___DEC' = Astrometric right ascension and declination of the target center with respect to the observing site (coordinate origin) in the reference frame of the planetary ephemeris (ICRF). Compensated for down-leg light-time delay aberration.

Units: RA in decimal degrees, ddd.fffff{ffff} DEC in decimal degrees, sdd.fffff{ffff}

'delta deldot' = Apparent range ("delta", light-time aberrated) and range-rate ("delta-dot") of the target center relative to the observer. A positive "deldot" means the target center is moving away from the observer, negative indicates movement toward the observer. Units: AU and KM/S

Computations by ...

Solar System Dynamics Group, Horizons On-Line Ephemeris System
4800 Oak Grove Drive, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA  91109   USA

General site:
Mailing list:
System news :
User Guide  :
Connect     : browser
              command-line   telnet 6775
Author      :

Also, just see which way a deep space network dish is pointing when it is tracking VGR1 and receiving 160 bits per second.


rocketsocks t1_j2f2ced wrote

In addition to the five spacecraft there are 4 rocket upper stages which are on escape trajectories from the solar system (Pioneer 11's upper stage is probably stuck orbiting the Sun because it would have had to have made gravity assists at both Jupiter and Saturn to escape, which is unlikely). There are also the small yo-yo de-spin weights for the New Horizons kick stage.


12kdaysinthefire t1_j2fkz6k wrote

How the hell are they able to communicate with and send commands to spacecraft that has left the solar system? It blows my mind the distance that signal has to cross.