Remote Agent

What is a remote agent?

What happens to a ship when its remote agent "dies?"

Eventually DS1 or any other spacecraft with a remote agent will be far enough away from the Sun so that there is not enough electricity generated by the solar panels to run Remote Agent. At this point, the ship will no longer be able to diagnose itself and fix problems or even change course. When it loses power like this, probably the communications systems will also not have enough power to run, so uplinked commands from NASA will not be able to control the spacecraft either.

Once Remote Agent "dies" and there are no more communications from NASA, the spacecraft will no longer be able to perform its useful functions. It cannot collect data and send it back. The spacecraft will not stop, however. It will continue traveling through space because of inertia. It will continue moving under the influence of the Sun's gravity and its own motion indefinitely, a mute block of technology orbiting the Sun, unless it collides with an object in space like an asteroid or is pulled into a larger body in space by gravity.

Voyager 2, a spacecraft that has passed Pluto's orbit, is still just barely in contact with Earth. Although it doesn't have a remote agent (it was launched long before electronics were small enough to fit on a satellite), it can still accept commands from Earth. The original graduate students who first worked on Voyager in the 70s are now professors with their own graduate students. Every two months, graduate students reboot an old PDP-11 computer and generate a list of commands that will tell it to turn its solar panels towards the Sun. As long as they can keep the solar panels turned towards the Sun, Voyager can keep sending a few pictures back from beyond the edge of the solar system.

How are satellites with no remote agent controlled?
When is Remote Agent on?
How does a remote agent work?
How do scientists know what the path of an object in space will be?
How do objects in space travel?
How does NASA communicate with spacecraft?
Where does DS1 get its electricity?

Why do communications get harder at greater distances?
Why do solar panels become less useful the farther they get from the Sun?
How is NASA overseeing the DS1 mission?
What is inertia?