Voyager 1 has "serious problem," still transmitting gibberish

Several months after NASA reported that Voyager 1's space probe—currently 15 billion miles from Earth—was suffering a communication breakdown, the problem continues. It's still phoning home but sending gibberish and no technical interventions have helped.

"It basically stopped talking to us in a coherent manner," says Voyager mission project manager Suzanne Dodd. "It's a serious problem."

NASA launched the twin Voyagers 1and 2 in 1977 on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these spacecraft is a golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact—the Voyager Golden Record—may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever.

From NPR:

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, have outlasted many of those who designed and built them. So to try to fix Voyager 1's current woes, the dozen or so people on Dodd's team have had to pore over yellowed documents and old mimeographs.

"They're doing a lot of work to try and get into the heads of the original developers and figure out why they designed something the way they did and what we could possibly try that might give us some answers to what's going wrong with the spacecraft," says Dodd.

She says that they do have a list of possible fixes. As time goes on, they'll likely start sending commands to Voyager 1 that are more bold and risky.

"The things that we will do going forward are probably more challenging in the sense that you can't tell exactly if it's going to execute correctly — or if you're going to maybe do something you didn't want to do, inadvertently," says Dodd.