Voyager 1, First Craft in Interstellar Space, May Have Gone Dark

When Voyager 1 launched in 1977, scientists hoped it could do what it was built to do and take up-close images of Jupiter and Saturn. It did that — and much more.

Voyager 1 discovered active volcanoes, moons and planetary rings, proving along the way that Earth and all of humanity could be squished into a single pixel in a photograph, a “pale blue dot,” as the astronomer Carl Sagan called it. It stretched a four-year mission into the present day, embarking on the deepest journey ever into space.

Now, it may have bid its final farewell to that faraway dot.

Voyager 1, the farthest man-made object in space, hasn’t sent coherent data to Earth since November. NASA has been trying to diagnose what the Voyager mission’s project manager, Suzanne Dodd, called the “most serious issue” the robotic probe has faced since she took the job in 2010.

The spacecraft encountered a glitch in one of its computers that has eliminated its ability to send engineering and science data back to Earth.

The loss of Voyager 1 would cap decades of scientific breakthroughs and signal the beginning of the end for a mission that has given shape to humanity’s most distant ambition and inspired generations to look to the skies.

“Scientifically, it’s a big loss,” Ms. Dodd said. “I think — emotionally — it’s maybe even a bigger loss.”

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