NASA Contacts Voyager 2 In Deep Space And Executes Commands Without a Hitch
Voyager 2 left Earth in 1977 and has travelled an incredible distance, which can make the space probe difficult to contact, but fortunately after some antenna upgrades successful, communication was achieved after eight months.
NASA‘s Voyager 2 began travelling southward, comparative to the plane of the Earth, after flying over the North Pole of Neptune in 1989. Due to its unexpected change in direction, only one antenna in the world can contact the probe and it is in the southern hemisphere. The dish has had to go through several updates over the past eight months to continue communication with Voyager 2. Fortunately, these updates have been a success.
The message to Voyager 2 was a test of new hardware that has been installed in Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43). The dish had new radio transmitters installed, and one of them replaced the original transmitter that the antenna used to speak to Voyager 2.
Phillip Baldwin explained that the decision to make these upgrades was a difficult one:
The DSS43 antenna is a highly specialized system; there are only two other similar antennas in the world, so having the antenna down for one year is not an ideal situation for Voyager or for many other NASA missions.
The agency made the decision to conduct these upgrades to ensure that the antenna can continue to be used for current and future missions. For an antenna that is almost 50 years old, it’s better to be proactive than reactive with critical maintenance
Looking forward, the team at NASA believe that this communication is a positive sign for how they can continue sending commands and maintaining operations.
Deep Space Network project manager at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Lab Brad Arnold stated, ‘This test communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we’re doing.’
The Canberra-based Deep Space Station 43 has already been expanded by 70 meters in 1987, but since then had largely remained unchanged. This significant update will allow communications with Voyager 2 to continue, and will hopefully mean that there won’t have to be months of silence in the future.
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