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

“I think there was probably a big sigh of relief there,” Mr. Nagle stated. “And we were very pleased to be able to confirm that the spacecraft was still talking to us.”

The work obtained excessive marks from NASA officers in the United States.

“The DSN folks in Canberra did a remarkable job under the pandemic conditions just to upgrade DSS 43,” stated Suzanne Dodd, the Voyager mission project supervisor and director of the Interplanetary Network Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “I’ve got 100 percent confidence in that antenna, that it will operate just fine for a few more decades. Long past when the Voyagers are done.”

Both 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 a few hiccups over the years, however it’s nonetheless feeling its manner round in the darkish, making discoveries about the boundaries that separate our photo voltaic system from the remainder of the Milky Way galaxy.

“I’ve seen scientists whose backgrounds are in astrophysics now looking at Voyager data and trying to match that up with data they have from ground-based telescopes or other space-based telescopes,” Ms. Dodd stated. “That’s kind of exciting to go from a planetary mission to the heliophysics mission and now, practically into an astrophysics mission.”

While Voyager 2 retains chugging alongside, Ms. Dodd and her colleagues are getting ready to change off one among its scientific sensors, the Low Energy Charged Particle instrument. Doing so will be sure that the spacecraft’s restricted energy provide can maintain its different methods, significantly its communications antenna, heat sufficient to operate.

While that can scale back the spacecraft’s scientific output, the essential objective now could be longevity.

“The challenge is not in the new technology, or the great discoveries,” Ms. Dodd stated. “The challenge is in keeping it operating as long as possible, and returning the science data as long as possible.”

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