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Voyager 2 goes silent with a temporary communication interruption with Earth
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Voyager 2 goes silent with a temporary communication interruption with Earth
by Brad Bartz
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jul 31, 2023

Amidst its epic journey into the cosmos, NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft has temporarily lost contact with the blue planet. An accidental deviation of the antenna's alignment on July 21 has caused an unexpected silence in the spacecraft's interstellar communications.

Voyager 2, nestled over 12.3 billion miles (19.9 billion kilometers) away from Earth, slightly misaligned its antenna by 2 degrees following a routine transmission of planned commands. This minimal misdirection has led to an unexpected halt in the flow of data between the spacecraft and our home planet, as Voyager 2 can neither receive commands nor transmit data back to Earth.

The unanticipated pause in communication was triggered due to the misalignment, effectively disrupting the spacecraft's contact with NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas stationed on the ground. The DSN, a critical part of Voyager 2's communication apparatus, has been rendered incapable of receiving the data sent by the spacecraft. Correspondingly, Voyager 2 is also deprived of receiving instructions from the DSN's ground controllers.

Despite this interruption, Voyager 2 has not deviated from its intended path and will continue along its planned trajectory. The design of the spacecraft includes a built-in mechanism that ensures its antenna periodically resets its orientation towards Earth, irrespective of the spacecraft's position in space. This mechanism comes into play several times a year, acting as a critical failsafe to maintain the interstellar bond between the spacecraft and Earth.

The next automatic antenna reset of Voyager 2 is scheduled for Oct. 15. Following this reset, the spacecraft's antenna will realign its focus towards Earth, restoring the communication links. The mission team remains hopeful that this scheduled realignment will serve as an effective solution to the current disruption.

While Voyager 2 is experiencing this temporary period of radio silence, its twin, Voyager 1, maintains a consistent line of communication with Earth. Situated almost 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away, Voyager 1 continues to operate as expected, reassuring scientists of the resilience and reliability of these pioneering interstellar probes.

The silence from Voyager 2 is a stark reminder of the colossal distances that separate these spacecraft from our home planet and the critical importance of precision in interstellar missions. As we await the anticipated reconnection in October, Voyager 2 continues its silent journey, serving as a symbol of mankind's relentless pursuit of knowledge and exploration beyond our own celestial backyard.

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