NASA and the Major Voyager 2 Antenna Blunder

NASA lost contact with Voyager 2 on July 21st after flight commanders sent an order that tilted the probe’s antenna away from Earth, making it impossible to send and receive commands and data. Mission control tilted the antenna a mere 2%.

The spacecraft launched in 1977 to capture images of Jupiter and Saturn. Its subsequent journey makes it the most distant human-made object from Earth. When NASA lost contact, Voyager 2 was more than 12 billion miles away. Voyager 2’s discoveries include a new moon around Jupiter, 10 moons around Uranus, and five around Neptune. It was the only spacecraft to study all four giant planets of the solar system at close range.

After days of no contact, NASA received a “heartbeat” signal from the spacecraft. Given its distance from Earth, they believed they would not receive any further messages until October. In fact, they had scheduled an automatic reset to re-establish contact. According to NASA, the signal received means that the craft is in good health. NASA is now trying to detect signals via a huge dish located in Australia.

Voyager 2’s twin, Voyager 1, is now 15 million miles from Earth and seems to have posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, last week: “You might have heard… Voyager 2 is taking a break from sending data until October. In the meantime, I’m out here, almost 15 billion miles (24 billion km) from Earth and doing fine! – V1.”

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