NASA has regained contact with Voyager 2 after losing it for a week

NASA announced on Tuesday that the Voyager 2 spacecraft is not lost in interstellar space. The U.S. space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) confirmed that faint radio signals have been detected from the iconic probe. Indicating it remains in good condition and is transmitting information from beyond the Solar System. However, a recent human error has disrupted the spacecraft’s communication with Earth.

The anomaly occurred on July 21 when routine commands inadvertently caused a two-degree deviation in Voyager 2’s main antenna. The far-reaching probe, located nearly 20 billion kilometres (12.4 billion miles) away from Earth, experienced signal interruption due to this small deviation. As a result, the Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas. Responsible for receiving signals from Voyager 2, were unable to establish communication with the spacecraft.

NASA explained in a statement last Friday that data sent by the spacecraft was no longer reaching the DSN, and ground controllers were unable to send commands to Voyager 2. This unexpected situation raised concerns about the possibility of permanent signal loss.

Transmitting Commands to Voyager 2: Efforts to Regain Contact

However, late Tuesday, the DSN antenna in Canberra, Australia, detected a faint signal from Voyager 2’s beacon. Providing assurance that the disconnection was not due to a malfunction. The onboard equipment is still operational and transmitting, despite the weak signals not allowing for the transmission of data. This discovery has kindled hope that communication will be restored in the coming days.

In an attempt to regain contact with the spacecraft, the Canberra antenna continues to transmit commands in the general direction of Voyager 2, which was launched in 1977. Given the probe’s unaltered trajectory, moving away from Earth at a staggering speed of almost 1.5 million kilometres per day, NASA is optimistic that Voyager 2 might hear these signals and potentially restore its orientation.

However, the process is time-consuming, as the short command sequences, travelling at the speed of light, take 18 hours to reach Voyager 2. If the spacecraft successfully reorients itself. Another 18 hours would elapse before the signals reach Earth, further adding to the waiting period.

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