NASA has managed to make contact with the Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time in eight months. Voyager 2 has been flying solo while the 70-meter-wide radio antenna used to talk to it has been offline for repairs and upgrades.
NASA revealed that it sent commands to the spacecraft on 29 October via the Deep Space Station 43 dish, located in Canberra, Australia. The commands sent to Voyager 2 was a test of new hardware recently installed on Deep Space Station 43.
NASA’s mission team had previously received scientific data and status updates from Voyager 2 while the Deep Space Station 43 was receiving upgrades, but they could not transmit messages’ back to the spacecraft, thankfully, that issue has been remedied.
Among the upgrades the Deep Space Station 43, or simply ‘DSS43’ as its more commonly known is receiving, are two new radio transmitters. One of them, which is used to talk with Voyager 2, hasn’t been replaced in over 47 years. Engineers have also upgraded heating and cooling equipment, power supply equipment, and other electronics needed to run the new transmitters.
“This test communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we’re doing,” said Brad Arnold, the DSN project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California.
🎼 V’ger don’t lose that number /
You don’t want to call nobody else 🎵
@CanberraDSN‘s dish 43, the only radio antenna that can command my twin, Voyager 2, has been offline since March as it gets new hardware. Work is on track to wrap up in February. https://t.co/z6pv2maeGQ pic.twitter.com/cNY0GkbkGu
— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) November 2, 2020
DSS43 is currently the only dish in the Southern Hemisphere that has a transmitter powerful enough to send commands to the distant spacecraft. NASA now intends on using DSS43 to keep in contact with the Perseverance rover once it eventually lands on Mars, which is scheduled to take place in February 2020.