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A wrong command almost ended a 45-year-old legacy

By: Haolun Zhang

In July, NASA sent a wrong signal to Voyager 2, causing it to lose contact with Earth. This experience was nerve-wracking for the scientists at NASA, as the 45-year-old spacecraft has become one that the scientists do not want to see lost.

On Tuesday, after an interstellar “shout,” a powerful instruction that was launched from Australia, the probe’s antenna was pointed back at Earth. 37 hours after launching the “shout,” scientists finally started receiving feedback from Voyager 2.

The antenna [on earth] had been bombarding Voyager 2's area with the correct command in the hope of somehow making contact, Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the Voyager missions, said.

The twin explorers, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were the first spacecraft to operate outside of the heliosphere, the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields generated by the Sun. They reached interstellar space in 2012 and 2018, respectively. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to fly by Neptune and Uranus.

Voyager 2 is running low on its plutonium electronic source, and currently only has five instruments running. The scientists are expecting the twin Voyagers to run out after 2025, when they shall wander forever in space.

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