Voyager 1's incredible journey continues after NASA patches code in 46-year-old chip from a distance of 15 billion miles

In a stellar display of problem-solving, NASA has restored contact with the legendary Voyager 1 probe after five months of radio silence. The 46-year-old spacecraft went dark last November when a key computer chip failed, garbling the engineering data it beams across 15 billion miles of space.

Rather than accept defeat, mission engineers devised an audacious workaround — rewriting the corrupted software from scratch and relocating it piecemeal into unaffected areas of the probe's computer memory.

From NASA's press release:

The team started by singling out the code responsible for packaging the spacecraft's engineering data. They sent it to its new location in the FDS memory on April 18. A radio signal takes about 22 ½ hours to reach Voyager 1, which is over 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth, and another 22 ½ hours for a signal to come back to Earth. When the mission flight team heard back from the spacecraft on April 20, they saw that the modification worked: For the first time in five months, they have been able to check the health and status of the spacecraft.

Over the next few weeks, NASA's engineers will undertake the same process for the portions that transmit science data.

Previously: How NASA hopes they can keep the Voyager probes alive until their 50th anniversary