The Voyager 2 probe, one of NASA’s most extensive spacecraft, has been unable to contact Earth for the past eight months,media reported. Voyager 2 is known to have been hovering alone on the edge of interstellar space, collecting data 11.6 billion miles from Earth and sending it back to us. But on Earth we haven’t been able to pick up the phone and call it back.
Australia’s Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43) is the only radio antenna that can communicate with the probe, but it has gone offline as NASA completes a series of hardware upgrades. According to NASA, some launchers on the DSS43 have not been replaced for 47 years. In order to test the new hardware, the antenna issued several instructions to Voyager 2 on 29 October local time. It was the first time they had sent a signal to the spacecraft since mid-March.
Because the probe was too far away, the communications team had to wait more than 34 hours for a response. But Voyager 2 finally received the instructions and returned a “hello”.
NASA’s Deep Space Network allows scientists on Earth to communicate with spacecraft and rovers passing through the solar system. The telescope network consists of three giant space telescopes in the United States, Spain and Australia. But telescopes in the United States and Spain were unable to communicate with Voyager 2 because of orbital problems. The probe was launched out of the plane of the solar system as it passed Nep starry moon Triton. Think of the solar system as a plate, like a pea, rolling around a potato and starting to fall to the ground. At this location, telescopes in the northern hemisphere cannot send signals — but DSS43 can.
With the call of the universe, engineers and scientists can be confident that the hardware upgrade will not affect human communication with deep space probes.
Brad Arnold, deep space network program manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “The exchange with Voyager 2’s test clearly tells us that everything we’re doing is on track. “It is understood that the upgrade plan will be completed in 2021.
Although the probe is 43 years old, it continues to operate. A year ago, Voyager 2 scientists released new data collected by the probe as it entered interstellar space. Earlier this year, before the DSS43 was shut down, Voyager 2 suffered a malfunction that caused its scientific instruments to shut down, but it soon returned to normal and was ready to continue operating.