It required a “shout” from space to reach every planet in our solar system. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA said on Friday that it has restored complete communications with the ageing spacecraft Voyager 2, which has been exploring the solar system’s outskirts.
Linda Spilker, a planetary scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Voyager 2 project scientist in charge, stated, “After two weeks of not hearing anything, we’re back to getting specific information from the interstellar medium.”
aboard July 21, the antenna aboard Voyager 2 was mistakenly shifted two degrees away from Earth, and as a result, the space agency lost touch with the spaceship. The Deep Space Network, a global system of radio dishes used by NASA to connect with multiple space missions, received a carrier signal, sometimes known as a heartbeat, from Voyager 2 on Tuesday morning. Data extraction was unable due to its low strength, although mission status was verified.
To hear merely the pulse, though, “was upsetting and worrisome,” as Voyager 2’s project manager Suzanne Dodd put it.
On Wednesday, the mission team devised a plan to use a Deep Space Network radio dish in Canberra, Australia, to transmit a command reorienting Voyager 2’s antenna back to Earth.
A representative from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the prospects of success were low. The whole process, from sending the signal to Voyager 2 to receiving the data back, took 37 hours. This includes the 18.5 hours for the signal to reach Voyager 2 and the 18.5 hours for the data to return.
Waiting, as Ms. Dodd put it, “was fairly nerve-racking. You don’t get much shut-eye.
But it worked, and Voyager 2 resumed sending out scientific data at 12:29 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday. It was also verified by scientists that the probe had continued along its original course.
Dr. Spilker claims that the news was met with cheers, hugs, and even some tears and sighs of relief at mission control in California.
On August 20, 1977, Voyager 2 was launched into orbit to investigate the furthest reaches of our solar system and beyond. More than 12.5 billion miles from Earth, the almost 46-year-old spacecraft is presently gathering data for scientists to analyse about the vast area of space. Voyager 2, launched a few weeks after its twin, Voyager 1, was the first spacecraft to leave the solar system.
Voyager 2 is slated to automatically adjust the direction of its antenna on October 15, so if communication wasn’t made before then, the mission crew would have had to wait until then.
However, the mission is no longer on hold, and it has begun sending data from outside the heliosphere.
According to our inspection, the spacecraft seems to be in fine condition,” Ms. Dodd stated. The mission crew will keep conducting tests until they have a complete understanding of the spacecraft’s condition.