Voyager 2, NASA’s 46-year-old spacecraft, is now incommunicado after its antenna pointed in the wrong direction.
The space agency revealed that the spacecraft’s antenna has been misaligned, pointing two degrees away from Earth for more than a week. Consequently, Voyager 2 is unable to receive commands or transmit data to the Deep Space Network (DSN) operated antennae.
NASA believes that this setback is temporary and should not end the probe’s remarkable 46-year journey in space. Voyager 2 is designed to recalibrate its position periodically, with the next scheduled reset set for October 15.
The space agency added that Voyager 2’s trajectory is expected to remain unchanged. The probe is currently around 32 billion kilometers from Earth, and gets 15km further away every second. Its sibling spacecraft, Voyager 1, is still functional and in contact with home, positioned almost 24 billion kilometers away from Earth, traveling at 17km/sec.
To prolong Voyager 2’s operational life, its electrical systems were adjusted earlier this year. Should these modifications yield positive results, a similar adjustment might be applied to Voyager 1. In 2022, Voyager 1 also experienced telemetry woes. Scientist found it sent back garbled information to Mission Control. It transpired that data was being routed incorrectly by a computer that had not worked for years.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.