Still out There: NASA Detects Carrier Signal From Voyager 2 Amid Communication Blackout

NASA's Twin Voyager Spacecraft

Despite communication disruption with Voyager 2, NASA’s DSN has received a carrier signal from the spacecraft, confirming its operational status and trajectory. An early attempt to restore full communication will be made before the automatic antenna readjustment scheduled for October. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Update: NASA’s facility in Australia successfully reoriented Voyager 2, receiving science and telemetry data confirming the spacecraft’s normal operation and expected trajectory.

Following our previous report on NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, which lost its ability to transmit data or receive commands due to a minor misalignment of its antenna, there’s been a significant development. The NASA Deep Space Network (DSN), utilizing multiple antennas, has picked up a carrier signal from the wayward spacecraft.

A carrier signal serves as the conduit through which the spacecraft sends data back to Earth. Even though the detected signal is too faint to extract any meaningful data, its detection confirms that Voyager 2 is still functioning. Moreover, the spacecraft remains on its expected trajectory.

Deep Space Station 23 Dish

This artist’s concept shows what Deep Space Station-23, a new antenna dish at the Deep Space Network’s complex in Goldstone, California. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While the spacecraft’s antenna is scheduled to automatically readjust towards Earth in mid-October, the team isn’t leaving any stone unturned. They plan to make an earlier attempt to command Voyager 2, even while its antenna is still directed away from Earth. This will involve using a DSN antenna to amplify (“shout”) the command to the spacecraft to reorient its antenna.

This interim attempt may not yield the desired outcome. If that proves to be the case, the team will revert to the original plan, awaiting the spacecraft’s automatic reset of its orientation in October.

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