With the help of an error in command. NASA was able to reconnect with its Voyager 2 probe, which had been cut off from Earth in July. A “interstellar shout” command caused the probe’s antenna to turn back towards Earth. Allowing NASA to establish communication. After employing a powerful transmitter to relay the directive. It took 37 hours for mission controllers to get confirmation that communication had been resumed. Voyager 2, which was launched in 1977, is one of the two spacecraft that have ventured beyond the heliosphere and into interstellar space. It has brought invaluable knowledge about the outer planets and is continues moving across space.
In July, a flawed order was given to the 1977 spacecraft. That was sent out to explore the cosmos, causing it to shift its course and lose contact.
The transmission from Tuesday was picked up. But because of a “interstellar shout” a stern order the antenna is now facing Earth’s back. Initially, NASA had hoped that the spacecraft would reset itself in October.
Given that Voyager 2 is billions of miles distant from Earth. It took mission controllers 37 hours to determine if the interstellar command had been successful.
According to Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd, staff utilised the “highest-power transmitter” to send a message to the spacecraft. And scheduled it to be delivered at “the best conditions”. So the antenna would line up with the order.
Once the link was broken, the probe was unable to communicate with Earth or send information to the Deep Space Network. A vast worldwide network of radio antennae.
The space agency said, however, on August 4 that data had been received from the spacecraft and that it was operating normally.
What NASA Said
According to NASA, the spacecraft will probably keep moving throughout the universe on its scheduled route. The space agency announced on Monday that it was using a huge dish near Canberra, the capital of Australia, to search for any stray Voyager 2 signals. The first flimsy “heartbeat” signal was audible at this time.
The antenna had been repeatedly sending the right order to Voyager 2 in an attempt to make contact, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, which oversees the Voyager missions. To maintain its antenna pointed at Earth, the probe is programmed to reset its location many times a year. If all prior measures had failed, NASA had staked its hopes on the upcoming reset, which is scheduled for 15 October.
The Voyager probes have run across a lot of issues over their more than 40 years in orbit. The primary radio receiver on Voyager 1 burnt out when engineers mistakenly switched it to a backup radio receiver while it was still heading towards Jupiter. After its fly-by of Saturn, Voyager 2’s camera platform became stuck due to a lack of lubricant. Years later, in 2010, the probe encountered an issue that briefly affected its science data.
Keep the probes in the air became as much an art as a science as several engineers moved on to other NASA missions, leaving a dwindling number of ageing professionals familiar with the probe and its software. Four kilobytes of storage and computing power were all that the Voyager spacecraft possessed, which was state-of-the-art in the 1970s but thousands of times slower than a modern smartphone.
However, NASA is taking a lighthearted approach to the problem by posting social media updates from Voyager 1, the sibling of the interstellar probe. “You may have heard…, the agency wrote in a message on X (previously Twitter). Until October, Voyager 2 won’t be sending any data. I’m now at this location, over 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) from Earth, and I’m doing great! – V1.”