NASA’s Voyager 2 is considered the longest-running and most widely-traveled interstellar spacecraft ever. It has also been out of contact with the Earth for a particularly long time. Fortunately, after months of silence, NASA finally re-established communication with Voyager 2. Voyager 2 has not received a signal from Earth since March, almost eight months or the entire outbreak. The communication failure was not caused by an abnormal equipment or a space accident with the spacecraft.
This communication failure is not so much a fault as a routine maintenance. But when the spacecraft is the longest and longest ever to fly, leaving the Earth and even the entire solar system almost behind, anything ordinary will become no longer common for Voyager 2.
Australia’s Deep Space Station 43 (DSS-43) is the only antenna on Earth that can send instructions to Voyager 2. In March, NASA said the antenna needed a major upgrade and that it would take about 11 months to shut down in order to complete the upgrade.
In the meantime, Voyager 2 will not receive messages from Earth, but researchers on Earth will still be able to receive information from Voyager 2. At present, Voyager 2 is 18.7 billion kilometers away from Earth, and is still going further and further away.
For the time being, the upgrade of the DSS-43 is still under way and is expected to be completed by February 2021. However, important upgrades have been installed, so preliminary testing can be performed.
Last week, staff sent a series of instructions to Voyager 2. This is the first time since March that the DSS-43 has sent a message to Voyager 2. Later, NASA reported that Voyager 2 responded with a “hello” confirmation that it had received the message and successfully executed the instructions.
Successful communications between radio antennas and interstellar spacecraft are common and generally do not have much news value. But Voyager 2 is different. It is well known and has a long history. In fact, Traveler is NASA’s longest-running spacecraft. It deserves special attention, especially if radio one-way mute is so long. This has never happened before.
According to NASA, the DSS-43 has not been offline for so long in three decades. But the old radio antenna has been in use for 47 years and really needs to be replaced. And this antenna is the only antenna in the world that can send a broadcast to Voyager 2.
After the update, the DSS-43 will be replaced with two new antennas for upgraded heating and cooling units, power supplies, and other electronic devices that support new transmitters. When the upgrade is complete, the already legendary device will be able to continue to write legends.
“What’s different about this work is that we’ve refurbished the entire antenna, from the base on the ground to the top of the antenna,” said Brad Arnold, NASA’s deep space network program manager. The test communication with Voyager 2 certainly shows that everything is on track. “
The test communication with Voyager 2 certainly shows that everything is on track.
There are other reasons besides technology as to why only the DSS-43 antenna in the world can connect with Voyager 2. Since Voyager 2 flew over Nep nep starry moon Nep starry Nepong in 1989, its trajectory is significantly southerly relative to the planetary plane of the solar system, meaning that the ground antenna in the northern hemisphere cannot be connected to Voyager 2.
But that’s not a big deal for antennas in the southern hemisphere – unless you have to go offline for a whole year because of some major upgrades. Even so, scientists are still thinking about Voyager 2 day and night, keeping an eye on its safety.
“We’ve been talking to Voyager 2, every day,” said Suzanne Dodd, Traveler’s interstellar project manager. We’ll find out if there’s a problem. “(Uniform)