In September 2017 NASA (United States Federal Space Agency) marked the 40th anniversary of sending spacecraft, Voyager 1 & 2, into space. Over the 40 years the two spacecrafts have explored various corners of the universe – their success is chalked up to the innovative use of sensors, such as thermocouples, to convert energy into a power source.
Explore the voyagers’ design and find out how you can take their success and apply it to your own business.
Voyager 1 & 2:
In September 1977, both Voyager probe 1 and 2 had been successfully launched into space, sent to uncover various depths of outer space for the next 40 years. The two machines have been exploring the universe and sending data back to NASA for decades, even though Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012.
As the machines are man-made but completely unmanned, it’s a feat of innovative engineering that has allowed the two spacecrafts to continue to record data for this length of time.
Ed Stone, a scientist working on the Voyager Project, explained his pride in their longevity in an interview with Space.com.
“It’s amazing that the two spacecraft are still working after 40 years. When we launched, the Space Age itself was only 20 years old, so this is an unparalleled journey, and we’re still in the process of seeing what’s out there.”
Thermocouples and Alternative Energy:
One of the key reasons the Voyagers’ have been able to last for 40 years, with Voyager 1 travelling a staggering 12.97 billion miles, is the use of alternative power sources. Thermocouples are crucial to the design of the spacecraft, as the heat detecting sensors are used to convert heat from decaying plutonium -238 into electrical current. This alternative energy source is what fuels the probes and has kept them going for such an unsuspected length of time.
It is estimated that the energy source will keep the spacecraft fueled and able to transmit data until around 2020. After this, the voyager will continue to float around in interstellar space, hoping to relay the message ‘You are not alone’ to anyone (or thing) that may come into contact with it.
The types of sensor used in the spacecraft can be used across a wide range of appliances due to their mass production and low cost. RS Components shows the different types of thermocouples available. From checking your cup of tea is the perfect temperature to launching into space, this heat detecting sensor is used everywhere – which makes this small feat of engineering even more impressive.
Knowing that energy has played such a crucial role in the project highlights the importance of looking to alternative sources in every-day businesses, even those that plan to remain firmly on the earth.
Alternative Energy for your Business:
There are multiple ways you and your company can turn to green and alternative power sources to create longevity. Much like the spacecraft, relying on alternative fuels and energies can have various positive outcomes for your company.
Power your office with alternative energy. Green power can be harnessed in various new ways, generated from renewable energy sources including wind and solar power, hydropower, geothermal, and plant matter. Although it can be slightly more expensive that using the standard fossil fuels, using green power is far less strain on the environment and can really champion your business above competitors.
If you’re looking to save money, following data collected by various sensors (proximity sensors, thermocouples, motion detectors) could minimize energy usage, creating an energy efficient company. Not only will this method cut down on electricity bills and be better for the environment, but highlighting the green nature of the company gives you a USP, allowing your business to stand out from competitors.
Looking to Space for Answers:
40 years after their launch, the two Voyager spacecrafts have travelled far and wide, reaching previously uncovered corners of space. Their findings have revolutionised what scientists know about the universe.
Let their success revolutionise business. By implementing methods tried and tested in the most extreme conditions, simplest design changes could have a large impact on the efficiency, costs and longevity of all businesses.
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