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NASA reestablishes communication with Voyager 2 following an error that led to several weeks of silence

by Chloe Baker
6 comments
Voyager 2 communication restoration

After several weeks of silence, communication with NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft was successfully restored on Friday when ground controllers rectified an error that had disrupted the communication.

Traveling deeper and deeper into interstellar space billions of miles away, Voyager 2 lost contact with Earth two weeks prior due to a faulty command which resulted in the misalignment of its antenna.

Hoping to realign the antenna, a new command was sent by NASA’s Deep Space Network on Wednesday using the most powerful transmitter at the massive radio dish antenna in Australia. The adjustment required for Voyager 2’s antenna was minor, a mere 2%.

The command took over 18 hours to reach Voyager 2, which is located more than 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) away. It then took another 18 hours to receive a response.

Finally, their gamble paid off. On Friday, Voyager 2 began transmitting data once more, as confirmed by officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Relieved, project manager Suzanne Dodd stated to The Big Big News, “I breathed a sigh of relief. It was as if I melted into the chair.”

“Voyager is back,” added project scientist Linda Spilker.

Since its launch in 1977 to explore the outer solar system, Voyager 2 has been propelling through space. Its counterpart, Voyager 1, which was launched two weeks later, now holds the record for being the furthest spacecraft — 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away — and it continues to communicate with Earth.

According to Dodd, the two-week communication gap is the longest that NASA had experienced without receiving any communication from Voyager 2.

Dodd stated that as long as the spacecraft’s plutonium power supply lasts, the Voyagers could still be operational by the time of their 50th launch anniversary in 2027. The scientific data they have transmitted over recent years include insights into the interstellar magnetic field and the prevalence of cosmic rays.

“For the past decade, we’ve managed to maximize every single watt,” said Dodd. “We are hopeful that at least one of them will reach the 50-year mark. However, they are aging, and incidents like this recent one certainly concern me in terms of achieving such a milestone.”


The Big Big News Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is exclusively responsible for all content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Voyager 2 communication restoration

What caused the loss of communication with Voyager 2?

A faulty command was sent to Voyager 2 which resulted in the misalignment of its antenna, disrupting communication with Earth.

How was communication with Voyager 2 restored?

Communication was restored when a new command was sent by NASA’s Deep Space Network to realign Voyager 2’s antenna. This process involved using the most powerful transmitter at a large radio dish antenna in Australia.

How long did it take for the new command to reach Voyager 2 and to receive a response?

It took over 18 hours for the command to reach Voyager 2, which is located more than 12 billion miles away. It then took another 18 hours to receive a response.

How long was Voyager 2 out of contact with NASA?

The spacecraft was out of contact for two weeks, marking the longest period that NASA had gone without hearing from Voyager 2.

Can the Voyager spacecrafts still be operational by their 50th launch anniversary in 2027?

According to project manager Suzanne Dodd, as long as the spacecraft’s plutonium power supply lasts, the Voyagers could still be operational by the time of their 50th launch anniversary in 2027. However, the aging spacecraft and incidents like the recent communication loss pose challenges.

What sort of data have the Voyager spacecrafts been sending back to Earth?

In recent years, the Voyager spacecrafts have transmitted scientific data providing insights into the interstellar magnetic field and the prevalence of cosmic rays.

More about Voyager 2 communication restoration

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6 comments

GalacticExplorer August 5, 2023 - 2:22 am

Can we just talk about how it’s 12 billion miles away and we’re still receiving data? Insane! Long live Voyager 2.

Reply
AstroPhil August 5, 2023 - 6:58 am

its amazing what we can accomplish when we put our minds to it. these voyagers have gone so far and revealed so much about our universe. truly remarkable!

Reply
JayRocket88 August 5, 2023 - 8:36 am

Whew, talk about cutting it close! So glad they managed to get Voyager 2 back online. Space is one harsh environment, kudos to NASA for this.

Reply
SciGuy101 August 5, 2023 - 10:01 am

This is y the plutonium power supply is so critical! Can’t believe they’re already heading for the 50th year, hope they make it. Shows how far tech has come.

Reply
CosmoFan21 August 5, 2023 - 10:03 pm

This is totally awesome! can’t imagine how tense it must have been for the folks at NASA. fingers crossed for the 50th-anniversary milestone.

Reply
StarGazer87 August 5, 2023 - 10:30 pm

i’ve been following this since the news broke out, glad to hear that our little spacecraft’s back in the game. the science these things have brought us is mindblowing!!

Reply

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