Earth to Voyager 2: After a Year in the Darkness, We Can Talk to You Again

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“I believe there was in all probability a giant sigh of reduction there,” Mr. Nagle stated. “And we had been very happy to have the ability to affirm that the spacecraft was nonetheless speaking to us.”

The work received excessive marks from NASA officers in the US.

“The DSN of us in Canberra did a outstanding job underneath the pandemic circumstances simply to improve DSS 43,” stated Suzanne Dodd, the Voyager mission mission supervisor and director of the Interplanetary Community Directorate on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “I’ve received 100 p.c confidence in that antenna, that it’ll function simply wonderful for just a few extra many years. Long gone when the Voyagers are carried out.”

Each Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 maintain the data for the farthest a spacecraft has ever traveled and for the longest working mission. Voyager 2 has had just a few hiccups through the years, however it’s nonetheless feeling its manner round at midnight, making discoveries concerning the boundaries that separate our photo voltaic system from the remainder of the Milky Method galaxy.

“I’ve seen scientists whose backgrounds are in astrophysics now Voyager knowledge and attempting to match that up with knowledge they’ve from ground-based telescopes or different space-based telescopes,” Ms. Dodd stated. “That’s form of thrilling to go from a planetary mission to the heliophysics mission and now, virtually into an astrophysics mission.”

Whereas Voyager 2 retains chugging alongside, Ms. Dodd and her colleagues are getting ready to modify off one in every of its scientific sensors, the Low Vitality Charged Particle instrument. Doing so will make sure that the spacecraft’s restricted energy provide can preserve its different programs, significantly its communications antenna, heat sufficient to operate.

Whereas that may cut back the spacecraft’s scientific output, the primary aim now’s longevity.

“The problem is just not within the new know-how, or the good discoveries,” Ms. Dodd stated. “The problem is in holding it working so long as doable, and returning the science knowledge so long as doable.”

The workforce estimates that each spacecraft can function for an additional 4 to eight years, and NASA final yr granted the workforce three extra years of flying time.

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