August 8, 2023 science

NASA restores full contact with the lost Voyager 2

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Picture by: AGeekMom | Flickr

NASA gained back full contact with the lost Voyager 2 space probe after a few weeks of silence.

On July 21, NASA sent a ‘series planned commands’ to Voyager 2 which accidentally changed the antenna 2 degrees away from earth. This caused the transmission between NASA and Voyager 2 to be cut and no signals could be received.

After the lost contact with the Voyager 2, it traveled 12.3 billion miles (19.9 billion Kilometers) away from Earth.

On August 1, an irrational signal coming from the Voyager 2 was suddenly detected by NASA’s Deep Space Network. This signal gave the team a relief that the spacecraft is still operating perfectly. Then on August 4 NASA gained full contact with the Voyager 2.

The antenna of the spacecraft is programmed to restart every mid October, so NASA was unable to wait till then for Voyager 2 to restart its antenna itself. Therefore, NASA’s Deep Space Network Facility in Australia, the closest to the spacecraft at that moment, used an “interstellar shout” to command Voyager 2 to redirect the antenna to point immediately back to earth.

Once the space probe’s antenna was realigned with Earth, communications resumed. The early command to redirect Voyager 2’s antenna towards earth allows NASA to know where it is outside of the Sun’s Heliosphere – the bubble surrounding the solar system.

Voyager 2 is part of the Voyager Program that launched in the late 1970s. The main mission was Planters Voyager whose task was to conduct a close review about Jupiter, Saturn and its rings, and also the moons orbiting around them. With the accomplishment of Jupiter and Saturn, NASA wanted Voyager 2 to fly also by Uranus and Neptune.

This mission was meant to last for 5 years, however with all the accomplishments Voyager 1 and 2 achieved, NASA decided to extend the program to 12 years, and now nearly 46 years.

One of the objectives of both Voyager 1 and 2 is to ‘help scientists understand the very nature of energy and radiation in space’. With the continued close up study of space, it will help NASA and scientists to lower the risk factors in the future exploration in space.

Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977 in Florida to ‘study the outer solar system up close.’

On November 5, 2018, Voyager 2 exited the solar system and entered interstellar space, a one between the solar system and the galaxy. Both Voyager 1 and 2 are extremely important to NASA having made this historic entry into interstellar space, sending information back through the Deep Space Network (DSN)

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Jefferson He

Editor-in-chief

London, United Kingdom

Born in 2007 in Hong Kong, Jefferson studies in Reading, England and plans to attend a university in the United Kingdom.

Jefferson joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 — first as a contributor, but quickly became the UK Correspondent. In 2024, he took over as the editor-in-chief and acting editor of the Politics section.

Additionally, Jefferson coordinates the Harbingerettes project in Nepal, where a group of 10 students has journalism-themed lessons in English. He spends some of his holiday reporting on the development of LGBT+ rights in Asia (one of his articles was published by The Diplomat).

He is interested in philosophy, journalism, sports, religious studies, and ethics. In his free time, Jefferson – who describes himself as “young, small and smart” – watches movies, enjoys gardening and plays sports. He speaks English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

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