DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide radio antenna at the Deep Space Network's Canberra facility in Australia.
Enlarge / DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide radio antenna on the Deep Area Community’s Canberra facility in Australia.


The Voyager 2 spacecraft has been gone from Earth for greater than 43 years, and it now lies 125 astronomical items from our planet. That’s 125 instances the space between the Earth and Solar.

Understandably, this distance makes it moderately tough for NASA to speak with its far-flung spacecraft—there’s a time delay of greater than 17 hours. Nevertheless, with Voyager 2, there may be one other complication in speaking to the spacecraft.

After flying by Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, Voyager 2 made its remaining planetary flyby in August, 1989 previous Neptune. Scientists have been additionally involved in additionally flying by Neptune’s intriguing moon Triton, so that they commanded Voyager 2 to take action on its manner past Neptune, flying over the north pole of the Moon. This trajectory carried it alongside a southward path relative to the airplane of the Photo voltaic System, and it has stored on reserving it south.

This has penalties for speaking with NASA’s Deep Area Community on Earth, which consists of three giant radio antenna amenities all over the world, in California, Spain, and Australia. Usually, this geographical unfold permits for all of NASA’s spacecraft nonetheless energetic to have the aptitude to speak with no less than one in all these amenities always.

However as a result of Voyager 2 has dipped to this point south of the airplane of the Photo voltaic System, it might now solely talk by line of sight with the 70-meter extensive antenna in Canberra, Australia. As a result of this facility is about 5 a long time outdated, it wanted to bear refurbishment and improve work starting in March, and it had been offline since that point. This work is anticipated to conclude in February, so NASA has been unable to ship alerts to Voyager 2 since that point.

Final week, to check new {hardware} not too long ago put in on the big dish, Voyager mission managers have been capable of ship a collection of alerts to the spacecraft for the primary time since March. Voyager 2 replied that it had, certainly, obtained the alerts and executed NASA’s instructions, the area company says.

That is good for NASA and science normally, as Voyager 2 (together with Voyager 1) at the moment are venturing past the Photo voltaic System, into interstellar area. Out within the nice black past, Voyager 2 will proceed to return knowledge concerning the velocity, density, temperature and stress of charged particles within the interstellar medium.


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