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NASA restores communication with Voyager 2

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NASA has successfully restored contact with Voyager 2, the spacecraft that has been exploring interstellar space for the past 46 years. The spacecraft had stopped communicating with Earth two weeks ago due to a mistake made by flight controllers who sent the wrong command and tilted its antenna away from our planet.

In an effort to regain contact, NASA’s Deep Space Network sent a new command to Voyager 2, using the highest powered transmitter at the radio dish antenna in Australia to repoint the spacecraft’s antenna by a mere 2 degrees. The command took over 18 hours to reach Voyager 2, which is over 19 billion kilometers away, and another 18 hours to receive a response. The long wait paid off, as the spacecraft started returning data again, much to the relief and excitement of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory officials.

Voyager 2, along with its twin Voyager 1, was launched in 1977 to explore the outer solar system. Voyager 1 is now the most distant spacecraft, 24 billion kilometers away, and still in contact. The recent two-week outage in communication with Voyager 2 was the longest NASA has experienced with the spacecraft.

As long as its plutonium power source continues to function, the Voyager spacecraft may remain operational for the 50th anniversary of its launch in 2027. The Voyagers have provided valuable scientific data, including details about the interstellar magnetic field and cosmic rays, as they continue their journey through space. NASA is hopeful that they will continue to function for many more years, but the aging spacecraft presents challenges in maintaining communication and functionality. Nonetheless, the success of restoring contact with Voyager 2 brings relief and optimism for further exploration and scientific discoveries.