The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe

August 12, 2017

Loyal Engineers Steering…#Voyager Probes Across the Universe
https://www.NYTimes.com/2017/08/03/magazine/the-loyal-engineers-steering-nasas-voyager-probes-across-the-universe.html True dedication: they’ve spent whole careers on this

QT:{{”
“Their fluency in archaic programming languages will become only more crucial as the years go on, because even as the probes harvest priceless information from the cosmos, they are running out of fuel. (Decaying plutonium supplies their power.) By 2030 at the latest, they will not have enough juice left to run a single experiment. And even that best case comes with a major caveat: that the flight-team members forgo retirement to squeeze the most out of every last watt.

One of the greatest obstacles to planetary science has always been the human life span: Typically, for instance, a direct flight to Neptune would take about 30 years. But in the spring of 1965, Gary Flandro, a doctoral student at Caltech, noticed that all four outer planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — would align on the same side of the sun in the 1980s. If a spacecraft were launched in the mid- to late 1970s, it could use the gravity of the first body to slingshot to the second, and so on. Such a trajectory would add enough speed to shorten the total journey by almost two-thirds. What’s more, this orbital configuration would not appear again for 175 years.” “}}

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