NASA Uses ‘Interstellar Shout’ to Contact Voyager 2

UPDATE 8/8: NASA managed to make contact with Voyager 2 and instruct it to reorient itself.

The Deep Space Network facility located in Canberra, Australia sent what NASA is describing as an “interstellar shout(Opens in a new window)” towards Voyager 2 with instructions on what to do. The message took 18.5 hours to travel the 12.3 billion miles to the probe, and NASA had to wait a total of 37 hours to find out if the “shout” had been heard.

Thankfully it was, and Voyager 2 took the appropriate action to turn its antenna back towards Earth. NASA is receiving science and telemetry data from the probe once again.

Original Story 31/7:
NASA has lost contact with the Voyager 2 space probe, but thankfully, it’s only temporary.

In a mission update(Opens in a new window), NASA says a series of planned commands sent to Voyager 2 on July 21 “inadvertently caused the antenna to point 2 degrees away from Earth.” The unexpected change means ground antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) can’t receive any data from or transmit any further commands to the probe.

The lack of communications is only temporary, but it will last a few months. NASA attempts to plan for every eventuality, and in this case Voyager 2 is “programmed to reset its orientation multiple times each year to keep its antenna pointing at Earth.” Unfortunately, the Voyager team needs to wait until Oct. 15 for the next of those orientation resets to happen.

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NASA doesn’t believe the lack of communication will cause any problems and Voyager 2 should continue on its journey regardless. The probe will enter its 46th year on Aug. 20 and is now more than 12.387 billion miles away from Earth(Opens in a new window). Voyager 1 is a little further away at 14.888 billion miles and its antenna is still pointed at Earth.

Back in April, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed to boost backup power on Voyager 2 to allow its five science instruments to continue operating until 2026. Then last week, NASA announced it’s preparing to launch a streaming service. Hopefully the service comes online in time to announce communication has been reestablished with Voyager 2 in October.

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