Space bits: Lunokhod 1 found and used again and Voyager 2 gets rebooted

Lunokhod 1 found and put to use

After nearly 40 years, the old Russian moon robot, Lunokhod 1 is once again being useful.  Lost for most of that time, the rover and it’s sister rover, were recently discovered by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.  And since being discovered, a team at UC San Diego are, once again, using the rover for one of its original purposes: laser ranging.  The team have already managed to bounce off 2000 photons from the rover’s laser ‘retroreflector’.  And they did it on the first try too.  Cool stuff.

The UC team will utilize the Lunokhod 1 and other reflectors from the Apollo program to measure the distance from the Earth to the moon, to the millimeter in order to test old Albert’s theory of gravity.

Voyager 2 Reboot

It seems that, after thirty plus years of service, Voyager 2 developed bit rot.  When NASA began getting incorrect data from the spacecraft, they started troubleshooting.  What they found was a bit that was flipped from a zero to a one.  That caused all transmissions to be garbled.  NASA, essentially, rebooted the spacecraft and the problem went away.  At 8.6 billion miles out from Earth, I’d say that was probably the farthest CTRL-ALT-DEL ever.  Of course, that isn’t how they did it, but you get the point.  I’m sure there were as many people about to turn blue, praying it would work again. 

Voyager 2 was launched in August of 1977 and has returned some stunning photos of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.  It has far exceeded its design goals and lifespan as it continues to return data. 

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