Experts of Jet Propulsion Laboratory decided to turn the four backup thrusters that were used last on November 8, 1980.
Chief engineer JPL Chris Jones said “The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters.”
The unmanned spaceship was launched with its twin Voyager 2 more than 40 years ago to explore the outer planets of the solar system traveling further than any human made objects in history.
Small adjustments are needed to turn Voyagers antenna towards earth because after decades of operation the attitude control thrusters turn the spacecraft firing tiny puffs causing its degraded.
“At 13 billion miles from Earth, there’s no mechanic shop nearby to get a tune-up,” NASA said.
They’ve fired up the thrusters and tested its ability to turn Voyager using 10- millisecond pulses. Then they waited 19 hrs and 15 mins to arrive the test result at an antenna in Goldstone, California.
JPL propulsion engineer Todd Barber said “The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. 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.”
“The life span of Voyager 1 was expanded up to 2 or 3 years as the back up thrusters were being used,” Barber added.
This January NASA plan to switch over to the formerly dormant thrusters and likely conduct similar tests on Voyager 2.
Furthermore plutonium- powered spaceships continue until they finally run out of fuel and will then orbit in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Scientists still expecting data on another decade from the Voyager.