NASA restores communications with Voyager 2: the only antenna that allows it to send orders has been without doing so for almost a year
The furthest that human beings have gone with one of their creations is through the twin probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The two items sent into deep space have already left the Solar System and are without a doubt one of the great milestones of humanity. Voyager 2, even though is in its last after 44 years of its launch, it continues to wage war. In these last days NASA has contacted her again to continue giving her orders what to do out there, in interstellar space.
In March of last year NASA announced that he was not going to communicate with the probe for at least 11 months. Essentially they trusted their technology from four decades ago to allow them to survive by itself and in automatic mode during all that time. It has done.
A single antenna capable of speaking to Voyager 2
But why haven’t they contacted her? Because there was no antenna to do it. Because of the voyage that Voyager 2 undertook, it is only possible to communicate with it from one point on the planet, in Australia. The only antenna available and capable of doing it there is the DSS 43, it is one of the antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) infrastructure. DSN is a network with three stations located in the United States, Australia and Spain. They are not random locations, but specifically chosen to cover 360 degrees of space from Earth.
The DSS 43 however needed a series of repairs and improvements. In addition, They took advantage of the interruption of communications to use it in other missions where it was useful, specifically in the missions to Mars that we are living these last weeks.
Now that all this is over, NASA has decided to re-synchronize the DSS 43 antenna with the Voyager 2 probe. In this way it regains its communication with the probe, a communication that It will take 17 hours and 35 minutes to send a message and another 17 hours and 35 minutes to receive a reply back. Why? Because the probe is so far away (over 18 billion kilometers) that messages simply cannot travel faster.
It must be said, during this time NASA has received information from the probe through the use of the other antennas of the Australia station. Nevertheless couldn’t send messages back because it did not have an antenna powerful enough to do so. Likewise, last October they had minimal communication just to tell Voyager 2 that “everything is fine” and not go into eternal hibernation.
Via | NOW