This incredible – and unsuspected – triumph means Voyager 1 can once again communicate with Earth, from 13 billion miles away.
Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars.
Travelling at speeds of more than 35,000 mph, the Voyagers travel about 900,000 miles farther from Earth each day, a distance equal to roughly 36 times Earth’s circumference.
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, Voyager engineers fired up the four thrusters and waited eagerly as the test results traveled through space, taking 19 hours and 35 minutes to reach an antenna in part of NASA’s Deep Space Network, at Goldstone, California.
Amazingly, the test was successful. Now, the Voyager team, based in Pasadena, California, is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.
Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said:
With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years.