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Author Topic: How does voyager find it's way?  (Read 3081 times)

Johann Mahne

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How does voyager find it's way?
« on: 10/08/2011 16:22:26 »
 The amazing voyager 1 space probe is now in interstellar space after 33 years of travel.
 
 I read on wiki that it uses the star Capella as well as the sun to navigate.It needs great accuracy to point the high gain antenna at earth.

 If the probe is completely out of orientation,how does it find Capella?Does it use a gyro or star patterns or something else?


 

Offline Atomic-S

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How does voyager find it's way?
« Reply #1 on: 30/08/2011 06:36:57 »
I don't know; I saw no further enlightenment on Wikipedia. I wonder if JPL may be a source of information?
 

Offline SeanB

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How does voyager find it's way?
« Reply #2 on: 30/08/2011 21:03:30 »
The sun is the brightest object ( even at that distance) and so pointing the antenna towards the sun pretty much is all that is really required. The star tracker is designed so that the aim star will be the brightest star in the field of view after the sun tracker has locked on to the sun. It is basically a long tube with a non reflective inside ( platinum black loaded paint I seem to remember, but basically a very dark surface) and a light sensor at the bottom.

If it loses orientation it is programmed to do a slow roll until it detects the sun, and then locking onto that, then using the star tracker to look for the brightest star. After that it uses gyro's to both keep the position and to allow it to manouver to point instruments to desired directions ( though currently only the magnemometer and ion detectors are powered, the camera takes too much power) to do measurements. Eventually the power levels will drop low enough that the only things left running will be the computer and the receiver, ending the useful life of the probe. It will still be keeping aimed at the sun, using the on board fuel supply, as that will last for about 30 years at current rate, while the power will decay in around 25 years or so. Really good life out of a probe that initially was designed to run for 4 years at best. Over 30 years and counting.
 

Johann Mahne

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How does voyager find it's way?
« Reply #3 on: 13/09/2011 07:28:05 »
Thank you for the information on the Star Tracker, SeanB. Very interesting.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

How does voyager find it's way?
« Reply #3 on: 13/09/2011 07:28:05 »

 

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