The Only Radio Antenna Capable of Communicating with Voyager 2 Came Back Online During Repairs and Upgrades. Contact Re-established – Universe Today

“Voyager 2, this is Earth calling. Do you read?”
Last week, the reply was lastly “yes.” And fortunately, after eight months of no communications, Voyager2 appears to be simply high-quality.

On October 29, NASA’s Deep Space Network communicated with the Voyager 2 spacecraft for the primary time since March of this yr.  The solely radio antenna highly effective sufficient to ship and obtain the faint indicators from the 43-year-outdated spacecraft is the 70-meter-extensive (230-foot-extensive) Deep Space Station 43 dish in Canberra, Australia. But the behemoth radio dish has been offline for repairs and upgrades.
The communications final week have been half of a check of the brand new {hardware}, however the upgrades aren’t completed but.
“The work has not been completed on DSS43,” mentioned Richard Stephenson on Twitter. Stephenson works within the Operations at Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. “Shortly after confirming a good command link with Voyager 2 the engineering team went back to work on more structural upgrades. The antenna still has to be optimized for X-Band which needs clear skies and a couple of weeks work.”
NASA mentioned they anticipate the work to be wrapped by in February 2021. Currently, it takes about 17 hours and 25 minutes for a sign to achieve Voyager 2, and then then similar quantity of time for the spacecraft to ship a sign again to Earth (You can see the present information on the 2 Voyager spacecraft right here.)
An artist idea depicting one of NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft, humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechDuring the repairs, Voyager 2 has been “flying solo,” primarily based on the ultimate instructions it acquired earlier than the Canberra dish was taken offline. Voyager 2 returned a sign confirming it had acquired the “call” and executed the instructions with out concern.
Among the upgrades to DSS43 are two new radio transmitters. One of them, which is used to speak with Voyager 2, hasn’t been changed in over 47 years. Engineers have additionally upgraded heating and cooling gear, energy provide gear, and different electronics wanted to run the brand new transmitters.

Every now and once more there is a perspective shot that prompts a “Wow! that’s big” remark. Watching the man strolling throughout the dish floor in direction of the dish hoist is one of these photographs.— Richard Stephenson (@nascom1) November 2, 2020
“What makes this task unique is that we’re doing work at all levels of the antenna, from the pedestal at ground level all the way up to the feedcones at the center of the dish that extend above the rim,” mentioned Brad Arnold, the DSN challenge supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. “This test communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we’re doing.”
The Deep Space Network consist of radio antenna services spaced equally around the globe. They are positioned in Canberra; Goldstone, California; and Madrid, Spain. The positioning of the three services ensures that just about any spacecraft with a line of sight to Earth can talk with not less than one of the services at any time.
However, the dish in Canberra is the one one succesful of speaking with Voyager 2. In order to make a detailed flyby of Neptune’s moon Triton in 1989, the probe flew over the planet’s north pole. That trajectory deflected it southward relative to the aircraft of the planets, and it has been heading in that path ever since. Now greater than 11.6 billion miles (18.eight billion kilometers) from Earth, the spacecraft is thus far south that it doesn’t have a line of sight with radio antennas within the Northern Hemisphere.
The upgrades for DSS43 will probably be helpful for different deep area missions, too, particularly for the touchdown of the Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18, 2021.
Voyager 2 captured this picture of Neptune in 1982, when it was over 7 million km (4.Four million miles) away from the planet. The Great Dark Spot within the center of the picture was the primary storm ever seen on Neptune. Credit: NASA/JPL.
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