NASA Loses Touch With Voyager 2 After Foul-Up

Instruction from Earth shifted antenna out of line
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2023 7:40 PM CDT
NASA Loses Touch With Voyager 2 After Foul-up
In this Aug. 4, 1977, photo provided by NASA, the "Sounds of Earth" record is mounted on the Voyager 2 spacecraft in the Safe-1 Building at the Kennedy Space Center prior to encapsulation in the protective shroud.   (AP Photo/NASA, File)

On July 21, NASA sent a series of commands to Voyager 2, which is 12.4 billion miles from Earth. One of them had the unplanned effect of moving the spacecraft's antenna 2 degrees, enough of a change in orientation to break off communication with Mission Control. For now, Voyager 2 cannot send data to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's giant antennas or receive any more NASA commands, USA Today reports. Still, NASA said Monday that it's listening in case a signal gets through.

NASA's huge dish antenna in Canberra, Australia, is on the alert for a communication, which would take more than 18 hours to reach Earth, per the AP. That antenna will send and resend the correct command over the next week on the off chance a transmission reaches Voyager 2, which was launched in 1977 to explore the outer planets. If that doesn't work, the next hope will arrive on Oct. 15, when agency officials say an automatic spacecraft reset should restore communication. The craft's twin, Voyager 1, is nearly 15 billion miles from Earth and remains in touch with NASA. (More Voyager 2 stories.)

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