Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hola Voyager 2

NASA has a cool page that lets you see what the (Deep Space Network) is talking to at any given time here: Deep Space Network Now

Today they are chatting with Voyager 2, a spacecraft that launched the year after I was born. It has been flying for almost 40 years without any hands-on maintenance or repair. That’s an achievement.

I’m awestruck that the spacecraft is still alive, but they are still doing useful science with it. Right now, today, they are communicating with it to download science data.

So how does this communication compare to the WiFi in my house?
 The received signal strength on Earth is 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 133 watts of power.
 The WiFi in my house is 0.075 watts.

 On my WiFi I can download 150 Megabytes per second.
 Voyager 2 is transmitting at 159 bits per second.

This blog post, not counting the images and links is 1,294 8-bit bytes. For us to transmit this blog entry to Voyager it would take over a minute just to send the message. Then it would take 32 hours for the message to travel the 17,300,000,000 kilometers to get to the spacecraft and the “OK” message to travel back to us on Earth.

Godspeed, Voyager 2. Please tell them we’re coming; It’s just taking a bit longer than planned.

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