With careful planning and dashes of creativity, engineers have been able to keep NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flying for nearly 42 years — longer than any other spacecraft in history. To ensure that these vintage robots continue to return the best science data possible from the frontiers of space, mission engineers are implementing a new plan to manage them. And that involves making difficult choices, particularly about instruments and thrusters.
Voyager 1 and 2 are now a mindboggling 13.5 billion and 11.1 billion miles from Earth. The people who originally designed them and the people who keep them working after 42 years should be incredibly proud of themselves.