NASA fired up Voyager 1’s backup thrusters for the first time in 37 years

NASA is getting really good at squeezing every last bit of life out of its hardware. It recently extended the Dawn spacecraft’s mission over Ceres for a second time, while New Horizons is on its way to check out a small icy body called 2014 MU69 in January 2019. Yesterday, NASA announced that it has successfully fired up four of Voyager 1’s backup thrusters, which haven’t been used since 1980, which should extend its life by a couple of years.

Voyager 1 is the only human-made object flying outside of our solar system, and it’s still communicating with Earth by way of the Deep Space Network, which allows engineers to send it instructions. The probe currently uses its attitude control thrusters to make tiny corrections — firing for only…

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