Nasa has reestablished contact with Voyager 2, the space probe launched in 1977 to explore the depths of space, after it lost communication due to a wrong command sent in July. By employing an “interstellar shout,” a potent instruction, the spacecraft’s antenna has been repositioned to face Earth once again, allowing for the restoration of contact.
Originally, Nasa had hoped the spacecraft would reset itself in October. The intricate process of realigning the spacecraft was a challenge, considering that Voyager 2 is located billions of miles away from Earth. The space agency utilized its “highest-power transmitter” to transmit the message during optimal conditions, ensuring that the antenna synchronized with the command.
After its communications were disrupted, Voyager 2 had been incapable of receiving commands or transmitting data back to Nasa’s Deep Space Network, an array of large radio antennas positioned across the globe. However, on 4 August, Nasa confirmed the successful receipt of data from the spacecraft, indicating that it was operating normally.
The spacecraft, equipped with an array of scientific instruments, is projected to continue on its designated trajectory throughout the universe. Nasa’s Canberra-based dish in Australia played a pivotal role in detecting any stray signals from Voyager 2, and it was during this effort that the initial faint “heartbeat” signal was detected.
In an attempt to regain contact, the antenna tirelessly bombarded Voyager 2’s location with the correct command. The probe is designed to periodically reset its position to maintain its antenna’s alignment with Earth. The next reset is slated for 15 October, serving as a fallback option if all other attempts had failed.
Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, are unparalleled in their exploration of outer space beyond the heliosphere, the Sun’s protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields. Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2012, followed by Voyager 2 in 2018. Originally dispatched to explore Jupiter and Saturn through a fortuitous alignment of outer planets occurring approximately every 176 years, Voyager 2 further distinguished itself by flying by Neptune and Uranus.