#astronomy Voyager 2 hears from Earth after months-long antenna overhaul – Astronomy Now
The 70-metre (230-foot) Deep Area Station 43 (DSS-43) dish in Canberra, Australia, is the one antenna in NASA’s Deep Area Community able to sending instructions to the Voyager 2 spacecraft, now 18.eight billion kilometres (11.6 billion miles) from the Solar. NASA started in depth upgrades in March that prevented flight controllers from sending instructions to
The 70-metre (230-foot) Deep Area Station 43 (DSS-43) dish in Canberra, Australia, is the one antenna in NASA’s Deep Area Community able to sending instructions to the Voyager 2 spacecraft, now 18.eight billion kilometres (11.6 billion miles) from the Solar. NASA started in depth upgrades in March that prevented flight controllers from sending instructions to the distant spacecraft. However in October, the dish was again in motion, in a position to uplink directions that have been obtained and applied. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech
On 23 October, mission operators despatched a collection of instructions to NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft for the primary time since mid-March. The spacecraft has been flying solo whereas the 70-metre-wide (230-foot-wide) radio antenna used to speak to it has been offline for repairs and upgrades. Voyager 2 returned a sign confirming it had obtained the “name” and executed the instructions with out challenge.
The decision to Voyager 2 was a take a look at of latest not too long ago put in on Deep Area Station 43, the one dish on the planet that may ship instructions to Voyager 2. Positioned in Canberra, Australia, it’s a part of NASA’s Deep Area Community (DSN), a group of radio antennas around the globe used primarily to speak with spacecraft working past the Moon.
Because the dish went offline, mission operators have been in a position to obtain well being updates and science information from Voyager 2, however they haven’t been in a position to ship instructions to the far-flung probe, which has traveled billions of miles from Earth since its 1977 launch.
Among the many upgrades to DSS43, because the dish is understood, are two new radio transmitters. One in every of them, which is used to speak with Voyager 2, hasn’t been changed in over 47 years. Engineers have additionally upgraded heating and cooling tools, energy provide tools, and different electronics wanted to run the brand new transmitters.
The profitable name to Voyager 2 is only one indication that the dish will probably be again on-line in February 2021.
“What makes this job distinctive is that we’re doing work in any respect ranges of the antenna, from the pedestal at floor degree all the best way as much as the feedcones on the middle of the dish that reach above the rim,” stated Brad Arnold, the DSN mission supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California. “This take a look at communication with Voyager 2 positively tells us that issues are on monitor with the work we’re doing.”
The Deep Area Community include radio antenna services spaced equally across the globe in Canberra; Goldstone, California; and Madrid, Spain. The positioning of the three services ensures that just about any spacecraft with a line of sight to Earth can talk with at the least one of many services at any time.
Voyager 2 is the uncommon exception. In an effort to make a detailed flyby of Neptune’s moon Triton in 1989, the probe flew over the planet’s north pole. That trajectory deflected it southward relative to the airplane of the planets, and it has been heading in that course ever since. Now greater than 11.6 billion miles (18.eight billion kilometres) from Earth, the spacecraft is to date south that it doesn’t have a line of sight with radio antennas within the Northern Hemisphere.
DSS43 is the one dish within the Southern Hemisphere that has a transmitter highly effective sufficient and that broadcasts the precise frequency to ship instructions to the distant spacecraft. Voyager 2’s faster-moving twin, Voyager 1, took a unique path previous Saturn and may talk by way of antennas on the two DSN services within the Northern Hemisphere.