TheOne of NASA’s best-traveled spacecraft, has been unable to communicate with Earth for the past eight months. Voyager 2 was alone at the edge of interstellar space, crawling some 11.6 billion miles from Earth and sending it back to us.
But we still can’t pick up the phone and call back.
The only radio antenna that can communicate with the probe, the 43rd Deep Space Station (DSS43) in Australia, went offline while NASA completed a bunch of hardware upgrades. According to NASA, some of the transmitters on DSS43 have not been replaced in more than 47 years. To test the new hardware, the disk ping Voyager 2 on October 29 with a few commands. This is the first time since mid-March that a signal has been transmitted to the spacecraft.
And because the probe was so far away, the communication team had to wait more than 34 hours for a response.
Sure enough, Voyager 2 received the order without problems and sent back “hello”.
Luckily, it seems Voyager 2 is still happy not knowing about it all terrible things has happened on Earth since March.
NASA’s Deep Space Network allows scientists on Earth to communicate with spacecraft and roller coaster across the solar system. The network consists of three giant telescopes located in the US, Spain and Australia.
But the US and Spanish telescopes were unable to communicate with Voyager 2 because of its orbit. As the probe passed by Triton, a moon of Neptune, it was shot off the plane of the solar system. If you think of the solar system as a plate, the probe is like a bean rolling around a potato and starting to move towards the floor. From that position, the Northern Hemisphere telescope was unable to send the signal – but DSS43 could.
With the appeal of the universe, engineers and scientists can be confident that hardware upgrades don’t affect our ability to communicate with deep space probes.
Brad Arnold, project director Deep Space Network at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “This experimental communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on the right track with their job. I’m working. The refurbishment is expected to be completed by 2021.
Although the probe is now 43 years old, it continues to operate. A year ago, Voyager 2. Earlier this year, before DSS43 was made offline, Voyager 2 but it was quickly back online and ready to continue its tests.