American space agency NASA has temporarily lost contact with Voyager 2 space probe, the second-farthest man-made object sent into space. It is currently located more than 12.3 billion miles (19.9 billion kilometres) from Earth. In a statement, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said that scientists lost contact with the space probe on July 21 after a series of planned commands inadvertently caused Voyager 2 to angle its antenna away from Earth. Though the spacecraft’s antenna shifted a mere 2 per cent, it was enough to cut communications.
“This change has interrupted communication between Voyager 2 and the ground antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN). Data being sent by the spacecraft is no longer reaching the DSN, and the spacecraft is not receiving commands from ground controllers,” the JPL said in the statement.
According to a report, the Canberra antenna, which is a part of NASA’s DSN, will send the correct signal to Voyager 2 hoping that it hits its mark.
Otherwise, NASA will have to wait till October.
It takes more than 18 hours for a signal to reach Earth from so far away.
“Voyager 2 is programmed to reset its orientation multiple times each year to keep its antenna pointing at Earth; the next reset will occur on Oct. 15, which should enable communication to resume. The mission team expects Voyager 2 to remain on its planned trajectory during the quiet period,” the JPL said in the statement.
Voyager 2 is the successor to Voyager 1 and second spacecraft to enter interstellar space. Launched from Florida in 1977 to study outer solar system, it joined its twin on December 10, 2018.
Voyager 1 and 2 were designed to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment to study the outer solar system up close. Voyager 2 studied Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
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