When the Voyager probes take a picture or record other data, do they digitize it on board and send a digital signal to earth (i.e. zeros and ones) or do they transmit an analogue signal (like old-fashioned radio or television) that is only digitized on arrival on earth?

I found a question on the cameras and on the signals themselves, that summarized the information I could find searching the web. Apparently, sensor data is transmitted continuously whereas images are buffered on tape. I could, however, not find any information on the encoding used.


1 Answer 1


All communications between spacecraft and Earth will be in digital form.

Voyager Press Kit p.24

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe also worth including this: "The Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) electronics consist of the vidicon support circuits and the signal chain. The vidicon support circuits are the vertical and horizontal sweep circuits, and the various power supplies for the vidicon filament, and the focus and alignment coils. The signal chain consists of the analog signal amplifiers, bandpass filters, and an eight bit analog-to-digital converter. The digital output is sent to the Flight Data Subsystem (FDS) for editing." pds-rings.seti.org/voyager/iss/inst_cat_na1.html#inst_info $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Feb 3, 2020 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ Since it directly addresses this part of the question: "do they digitize it on board" $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Feb 3, 2020 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ I've just asked What was the first use of analog to digital conversion in a satellite? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 3, 2020 at 23:52

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