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Voyager 2 Probe Resumes Contact with Earth After Communication Glitch

Voyager 2 Probe Resumes Contact with Earth After Communication Glitch

Voyager 2 Probe Resumes Contact with Earth After Communication Glitch

Voyager 2 Probe Resumes Contact with Earth After Communication Glitch

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  • Engineers can detect the carrier wave but cannot read the information signal carrying data.
  • Voyager 2 has been exploring outer planets and interstellar space since its launch in 1977.
  • Its twin, Voyager 1, entered interstellar space in 2012 and is even farther from Earth.
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NASA’s Voyager 2 probe, launched in 1977 to explore outer planets, experienced a communication mishap when a planned command caused its antenna to point away from Earth. This left the probe unable to transmit data or receive commands until an automated re-orientation maneuver on October 15. However, a last-ditch effort using the Deep Space Network successfully re-established contact, detecting a “heartbeat” signal from the spacecraft, indicating it was alive and operating.

While engineers can detect the carrier wave associated with Voyager 2, they cannot yet read the information signal that carries the spacecraft’s data. Despite the “low probability” of success, NASA plans to generate a new command to attempt pointing the spacecraft antenna toward Earth.

Voyager 2 left the Sun’s protective magnetic bubble, the heliosphere, in 2018 and is currently traveling through interstellar space. Previously, it explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, becoming the only spacecraft to visit the latter two. Its twin, Voyager 1, entered the interstellar medium in 2012 and is even farther from Earth, about 15 billion miles away.

Both Voyager spacecraft carry “Golden Records,” gold-plated disks designed to convey Earth’s story to extraterrestrials. These records include a map of our solar system, a radioactive clock, and symbolic instructions for playing the record. The contents, selected by a committee led by Carl Sagan, include encoded images of life on Earth, music, and sounds.

Though the Voyagers continue transmitting scientific data, their power banks are expected to be depleted after 2025. Afterward, they will continue wandering the Milky Way, potentially indefinitely, in silence.

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