Since nobody can physically check the condition of a probe 13 billion miles away, the team first gathered experts to assess the situation. On November 28th, they finally test-fired the backup thrusters, which worked perfectly and rotated the spacecraft just as well as the primary ones can. Todd Barber, one of the propulsion experts who looked at the issue closely, said that “The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all.”
Thanks to the successful test, Voyager will switch to the backup thrusters in January and will be able to beam data back to Earth a bit longer. The team might conduct a similar test with Voyager 2’s backups to ensure it can also send data back after it follows its older sibling to interstellar space in a few years’ time.