The agency announced that after a seven-month hiatus without command of the Voyager 2, NASA is now able to impart new directions and procedures to the ship.
The Voyager 2 space probe, launched in August 1977, has outside for more than 43 years visiting Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Repair and upgrade by team at NASA has been conducted since mid-March at the 43rd Deep Space Station in Canberra, Australia. That station is the only antenna in the world capable of communicating with the transducer. This is due to the Voyager 2’s position in deep space, the position of the antenna in the southern hemisphere and the fact that the antenna was able to communicate with the probe̵7;s 1970s technology.
Operators are making necessary repairs to its discs, which are 70 meters in size, or 230 feet in size. One of its two radio transmitters has not been upgraded in 47 years.
The mission operators on Thursday night sent a test signal to Voyager 2, currently in interstellar space. Work resumed on Monday morning. Journey 2 receives the signal and executes the command sent by the mission controller.
“What makes this mission unique is that we are working at all levels of the antenna, from the ground base to the feed cells (where the antenna receiver parts are located). ten) at the center of the Brad Arnold expansion disc, said Deep Space Network project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“This experimental communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we are doing,” he added in the press release.
The upgrade is expected to be completed by February 2021.
In interstellar space
The Voyager 2 became the second man-made spacecraft to enter interstellar space in 2018, after its twin Voyager 1 accomplished that feat in 2012.
Although the mission operators are unable to order Voyager 2 for a period as long as the coronavirus pandemic occurs, they continue to receive sensor data from the probe. Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 lie just outside the heliosphere, a magnetic bubble and particles created by the sun.
“We are always talking to spacecraft. We did it every day,” said Suzanne Dodd, director of JPL’s Interplanetary Network Director, and project director of Voyager Interstellar Mission. “We can see its health. If it’s unhealthy, we know.”
However, during the repair process, If something goes wrong with the ship, NASA has no way to ask it to quickly adjust its course.
Because the on-board systems of Voyager 1 and 2 are so old they have 200,000 times less memory than smartphones, she explains. That rudimentary technology, with less complexity, could be a boon to a probe’s life span, more powerful than four decades.
“That was probably one of the reasons they have been around for so long, just because they were so simple,” she said. “The Voyagers have a great track record. The spacecraft have a remarkable resilience capacity.”
That resilience allows humanity to continue to receive new information about the outer edges of our solar system. And that data is a reminder that apart from tribe and class, ideology and political party, we are all part of something magnificent.
From Voyager 2’s point of view when looking back at us, all of our struggles are miniscule as we wait for the election results.
Legendary astronomer Carl Sagan writes in his 1994 book “Blue Dots”: “Perhaps there is no better proof of human stupidity than our distant little world image. .
“For me, it underlines our responsibility to behave more kindly to each other, and to preserve and cherish the pale green dot, the only home we have ever known.”