The electronics and heaters aboard each nearly one-ton Voyager spacecraft can operate on only 400 watts of power, or roughly one-fourth that used by an average residential home in the western United States.
Voyager's fuel efficiency (in terms of mpg) is quite impressive. Even though most of the launch vehicle's 700 ton weight is due to rocket fuel, Voyager 2's great travel distance of 7.1 billion km (4.4 billion mi) from launch to Neptune resulted in a fuel economy of about 13,000 km per liter (30,000 mi per gallon). As Voyager 2 streaked by Neptune and coaseds out of the solar system, this fuel economy just got better and better!
Barring any serious spacecraft subsystem failures, the Voyagers may survive until the early twenty-first century (~ 2025), when diminishing power and hydrazine levels will prevent further operation. Were it not for these dwindling consumables and the possibility of losing lock on the faint Sun, our tracking antennas could continue to "talk" with the Voyagers for another century or two!
That's what I find incredible. It is nowhere near the end of our galaxy after all this time. That and the fact that it is running on 1970's technology.
It might be more like 1980's technology from a consumer standpoint, as NASA/military technology often leads commercial technology by a decade or more. But still, impressive that (most) everything is still working. On the other hand, my 1981 Radio Shack LED alarm clock/radio is still going strong...
What suprises me the most is that it hasn't been smashed by a space rock in all that time. At the velocity stuff is traveling in space, it wouldn't take a very big piece of debris to wreak havoc...
"Don't worry Boss...they can't do nothin' 'til they're through sparklin'..."
Though the chimpanzee flying the Voyager 1 has passed the normal life span of a chimp on earth by 3 years it is still quite young biologically speaking. The reason the chimp is able to survive for so long is explained by Newtons discovery that time passes more slowly with speed. Since the Voyager space craft is traveling at approximately 35,000 miles per hour the chimp is aging more slowly than the same chimp would have on earth.
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