NASA has reconnected with the Voyager 2 space probe, which is currently exploring the edge of interstellar space.
The probe was launched in 1977 and is currently 11.5 billion miles from Earth.
Together with Voyager 1, they are the most distant spacecraft in the known universe.
Earlier this year, NASA was forced to abandon Voyager 2 as it focused on hardware upgrades at the Deep Space Station 43 Ground (DSS43) in Australia. This week, the space agency turned on the new devices and sent the spacecraft a sound as it flew across the far reaches of space.
Due to the vast distances, the team had to wait 34 hours to respond.
But the submission was successful and the Voyager 2 sent out a welcome.
DSS43 is one of three other companies that are part of the Deep Space Network (DSN) that communicates with ships in deep space – the other two being Goldstone, California, and Madrid, Spain.
“ What makes this mission unique is that we work at all levels of the antenna, from the base at ground level all the way to the center of the plate extending over the edge, ” said Brad Arnold, DSN project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
“Our ping test with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we’re doing.”
In 1989, the spacecraft flew over Neptune’s north pole during a close flyby, pushing it south – and it has been heading in that direction ever since.
Now more than 11.6 billion miles from Earth, the spacecraft is so far south that it has no line of sight with radio antennas in the Northern Hemisphere.
DSS43 is the only technology on our planet that has a transmitter powerful enough to reach such a distance, and it is now receiving scientific data on interstellar space from the probe.
There are only two other identical antennas in the world, so turning off the antenna for one year is not the ideal situation for the Voyager or For many other NASA missions.
“The agency has made a decision to conduct these upgrades to ensure that the antenna continues to be used for current and future missions.”
“For an antenna that is around 50 years old, it is better to be proactive than reactive with the necessary maintenance.”
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