NASA has just introduced its Voyager 2 in interstellar space for the first time in more than seven months.
Voyager 2’s drivers broadcast a series of test commands to the spacecraft on Thursday (October 29) using the 43rd Deep Space Station (DSS43) radio antenna in Canberra, Australia. Voyager 2 NASA officials confirmed that they had signed up for the instructions and implemented them without incident, NASA officials said in an update on Monday (November 2).
These orders were the first for NASA to forward to Voyager 2 since mid-March, when DSS43 was 230 feet (70 meters) wide. is offline for repairs and upgrades. This ongoing maintenance work is extensive, including the addition of two new radio transmitters, one of which is used to communicate with Voyager 2.
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That particular transmitter has not been replaced in more than 47 years, NASA officials said.
Brad Arnold, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in Monday’s update.
“This experimental communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we are doing,” said Arnold, project manager at NASA. Deep space network (DSN).
That work, which will benefit communications with a variety of NASA spacecraft, is scheduled to be completed by February 2021, agency officials said.
The DSN is a network of radio dishes in three different, nearly equal languages - Canberra; Madrid, Spain; and Goldstone, California – which NASA uses to communicate with their distant spacecraft. The Canberra website included three smaller disks that could receive spacecraft relays, so the Voyager 2 team was able to keep tabs on the probe in the distance even though the DSS43’s work prevented them from sending commands.
And the Voyager 2 cannot be praised for its use of the DSN device in Spain and California: The spacecraft is moving below Earth’s orbit and can only reach from the Southern Hemisphere.
Voyager 2 and its twins, Journey 1, launched several weeks apart in 1977 to make an epic “tour” of the giant planets of the solar system. Two probe ships completed this unprecedented mission; Cruise Ship 1 is flown by Jupiter and Saturn, and Cruise Ship 2 has close encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. (By the way, Neptune’s flight, which included a close-up view of the planet’s largest moon, Triton, was what brought Voyager “south”.)
And then the Cruise ships continued to fly. Cruise ship 1 entered interstellar space in August 2012, becoming the first man-made object to do so. Voyager 2 followed by the end of 2018.
Both spacecraft are still in full swing, giving scientists the first close-up view of the interstellar medium, the vast expanse of space that lies deep outside the sun’s sphere of influence. However, the nuclear-powered Voyagers are running out of juice, so the mission team members have turned off some of the devices on the probe over the past few years to maximize their lifespan. them. Both spacecraft must have enough strength to hold Data collection until 2024missionary group members said.
Voyager 1 is currently about 14.1 billion miles (22.7 billion kilometers) away from Earth, and Voyager 2 is 11.7 billion miles (18.8 billion kilometers) from us. Therefore, an order from mission control is approximately 21 hours to reach Voyager 1 and almost 17.5 hours to get to Voyager 2.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.