NASA re-establishes communication link with Voyager 2
NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has re-established a communications link to the Voyager 2 space probe, which is exploring space outside the solar system. Previously, it was impossible to contact the device due to planned work on the DSS43 long-range space communications antenna in Canberra, Australia, which has been going on since March last year.
There are only two antennas for long-distance space communications of this type on Earth - in addition to the Australian one, one is located in Spain. However, in the case of Voyager 2, communication requires exactly the station located in the southern hemisphere - the probe flies in the direction south of the plane of the ecliptic, which is why it is not visible in Spain.
In March last year, NASA decided to repair and upgrade the Australian antenna to avoid damage and keep it in use. The repair was fraught with problems - initially, the agency planned to send 30 experts to Australia to monitor the progress of the work, but due to the COVID-19 coronavirus infection pandemic, the team had to be reduced to four specialists.
Since then, there was no communication with Voyager-2 until October 2020 - then a test message was sent from the antenna, which launched the necessary commands on the probe and returned with confirmation of the probe's operability. After that NASA continued work on DSS43 - they were fully completed by February. On Friday, February 12, the antenna sent a message to Voyager 2 and received a response 35 hours later, according to the official Twitter account of the Australian division of the Deep Space Network.
The device was launched into space on August 20, 1977, to study the distant planets of the solar system. It became the first terrestrial spacecraft to reach Uranus in January 1986 and Neptune in August 1989. After that, he flew past the largest moon of Neptune - Triton - and went beyond the solar system. Now Voyager 2 is located at a distance of 18.8 billion km from Earth, the path of radio communication to it takes 17 hours 35 minutes one way.