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NASA Looses Contact With Voyager 2

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft has encountered a communication break due to a series of planned commands sent to it on July 21.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Fri Jul 28 2023Written by Zac Aubert

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft has encountered a communication break due to a series of planned commands sent to it on July 21.

The issue arose when the spacecraft's antenna inadvertently veered 2 degrees away from its intended direction towards Earth, leaving it unable to receive commands or transmit data back to the home planet.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which oversees the Voyager mission, swiftly responded to the situation. The anomaly investigation team at JPL is working tirelessly to identify the cause of the mishap. Experts believe that a glitch in the planned commands sequence could have caused the antenna to veer off course unintentionally.

Voyager 2, an iconic interstellar spacecraft, currently resides an astounding 12.4 billion miles (19.9 billion kilometers) from Earth. This vast distance has made communication with the spacecraft reliant on the ground antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN). However, following the recent incident, the DSN is no longer receiving data from Voyager 2, and ground controllers are unable to send commands to the spacecraft.

Thankfully Voyager 2, like its twin spacecraft Voyager 1, is programmed to undergo a routine orientation reset multiple times each year. These resets ensure that the spacecraft's antenna remains accurately pointed at Earth. The next scheduled reset for Voyager 2 is slated for October 15, which is expected to rectify the communication issues and restore contact with the spacecraft.

During the quiet period, when the spacecraft remains unable to communicate with Earth, the mission team has confirmed that Voyager 2 is still following its pre-defined trajectory through the cosmos. All onboard scientific instruments and systems appear to be functioning nominally, and no critical systems have been compromised. The spacecraft continues to gather valuable data about the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond.

It is important to note that Voyager 1, Voyager 2's sister spacecraft, remains unaffected by this incident and continues to operate smoothly. Voyager 1, which is nearly 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away from Earth, carries the distinction of being the farthest human-made object from our home planet.

The Voyager mission, launched over four decades ago in 1977, has provided humanity with unparalleled insights into the outer planets and interstellar space. Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have exceeded expectations and continue to be a testament to human ingenuity and exploration.

The JPL team. space enthusiasts and scientists around the world eagerly await the upcoming realignment on October 15, which is poised to reestablish seamless communication with Voyager 2 and unlock further discoveries about the vast cosmos that lie beyond our home planet.