NASA Reaches Voyager 2 With a Last-Ditch ‘Shout’ Across the Void


Category:  Health, Science & Technology

Via:  hallux  •  last year  •  10 comments

By:   Katrina Miller - NYT

NASA Reaches Voyager 2 With a Last-Ditch ‘Shout’ Across the Void

The image:

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia sent the equivalent of an interstellar “shout” more than 12.5 billion miles to Voyager 2. Thirty-seven hours later, mission controllers learned that the command had worked.Credit...

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

It took an interstellar “shout” across the solar system. But NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory   said on Friday   that it re-established full communications with Voyager 2, an aging probe exploring the outer edges of the solar system.

“After two weeks of not hearing anything, we’re back to getting unique data from the interstellar medium,” said Linda Spilker, a planetary scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the lead mission scientist for Voyager 2.

The space agency   lost contact with Voyager 2   on July 21 when the mission team accidentally sent a command that pushed the spacecraft’s antenna two degrees away from Earth. On Tuesday morning, officials from the Deep Space Network, a worldwide system of radio dishes NASA uses to communicate with various space probes, detected a carrier signal known as a heartbeat from Voyager 2. It was too faint to extract any data, but enough to confirm that the mission was still operating.

Nonetheless, being able to pick up only the heartbeat “was upsetting and worrisome,” said Suzanne Dodd, the project manager for Voyager 2.

The mission team hatched a plan to send a command on Wednesday reorienting Voyager 2’s antenna back to Earth, using   a Deep Space Network radio dish   in Canberra, Australia.

The chances of success were slim, according to a spokeswoman at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It took 37 hours to know whether the attempt was successful — 18.5 hours for the signal to make it to Voyager 2, and another 18.5 for the data to return.

Ms. Dodd said the waiting period “was pretty nervewracking. You don’t sleep well.”

Scientists, engineers and the flight team were “waiting on pins and needles to hear back from Voyager 2, to see if the command was successful,” Dr. Spilker said. “It was all hands on deck.”

But it worked: On Friday at 12:29 a.m. Eastern time, Voyager 2 began transmitting science data once again. Scientists also confirmed that the probe remained on its original path.

According to Dr. Spilker, mission control in California reacted to the good news with a lot of high fives, tears and sighs of relief.

Voyager 2 launched to space on Aug. 20, 1977, to fly by the solar system’s outer planets and then explore the interstellar space that lies beyond it. The nearly 46-year-old probe is currently more than 12.5 billion miles away from Earth and   is collecting data on the distant region of space   for scientists to study. Its twin, Voyager 1, was launched weeks after Voyager 2 and   became the first   to cross the solar system’s boundary.

Had it not established contact, the mission team would have had to wait until Oct. 15, when Voyager 2 is programmed to do an automatic reset of the direction of its antenna.

But it no longer needs to wait, and the mission has resumed data transmissions from beyond the solar system’s heliosphere.

“We did an assessment and the spacecraft looks very healthy, very normal,” Ms. Dodd said. The mission team will continue to run tests to fully understand the status of the spacecraft before resuming regular activity.

Ms. Dodd looks forward to celebrating the probe’s launch anniversary later this month. “Both of these spacecraft are truly remarkable in their longevity,” she said, referring to Voyager 2 and Voyager 1. “They’re like the spacecraft with nine lives.”


jrDiscussion - desc
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    last year

Huge TY to the Aussies!

PhD Principal
1.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Hallux @1    last year

Professor Quiet
1.2  shona1  replied to  Hallux @1    last year

Morning...happy we could help..has advantages being upside down..

The actually footage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon came from us as well..many don't know that.. Honeysuckle Creek was the tracking station...

Professor Principal
2  devangelical    last year

I heard about this on NPR last week. thanks for the details.

Greg Jones
Professor Participates
3  Greg Jones    last year

The Voyager probes and several others will wander space pretty much forever.

They will be so far from the Sun when it goes nova in ~5 billion years, that they won't be affected.

The only surviving evidence of life on planet Earth.


Professor Guide
4  MrFrost    last year


Professor Principal
5  Kavika     last year

Great news and a ''good on ya mate'' to our friends down under.

Professor Quiet
5.1  shona1  replied to  Kavika @5    last year

Morning...we can bellow when we want to, even out into space..🦘🐨

Professor Guide
6  Tacos!    last year
The nearly 46-year-old probe is currently more than 12.5 billion miles away from Earth and   is collecting data on the distant region of space   for scientists to study.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Professor Quiet
6.1  shona1  replied to  Tacos! @6    last year

Morning tacos..I can vaguely remember when they launched it and reading about it in the newspaper..

I thought at the time yeah right as if that thing will be still floating around then...I was certainly wrong on that point..🛸🚀


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