Voyager 2 Recovers from Glitch, Back on Mission

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One of NASA’s Most Remarkable Spacecraft Survived an Interstellar Glitch. And Now It’s Back to Collecting Data.

In January, a seemingly critical incident threatened to put an end to NASA’s Voyager 2 mission. The legendary spacecraft, part of a set of deep-space faring probes, entered interstellar space in late 2018. Then it powered down many functions in July of last year in preparation for the long journey to come. Then, in late January, the spacecraft missed a calibration maneuver for its magnetic-field sensor.

That error caused a surge in power usage when two high-power systems began operating simultaneously. Fortunately, systems onboard the spacecraft allowed it to recognize the fault and go into protection mode. Of course, as soon as engineers have been scrambling to get the two power-hungry systems offline and restore power to the five instrument-systems still working on Voyager 2. 

Voyager 2: Problem Solved

One condition of the problem makes it extremely frustrating for mission engineers to solve is the sheer distance between us and the craft. Currently, it’s cruising along outside of our solar system, and any commands the crew sends take 17 hours to reach the craft. Then, of course, it’s another 17-hour wait to see if it worked. At this pace, it’s actually quite remarkable that officials at NASA announced today that all five of the probe’s instruments are functional again.

According to a statement yesterday, NASA proclaimed, “Voyager 2 has returned to normal operations following the anomaly on Jan. 25, 2020,” The statement continued, “The five operating science instruments, which were turned off by the spacecraft’s fault protection routine, are back on and returning normal science data.”

 Voyager 2, and its counterpart, Voyager 1, are now traveling farther than any other human-made objects in the universe. At present, they’re approximately 123.7 AU and 148.5 AU away from Earth, respectively. They also find themselves outside of the influence of our sun, both having left our heliosphere some time ago. 

Voyager 2 in Interstellar Space:

Now that its primary mission is complete, Voyager 2 gathers data that help us understand the space beyond our own solar system. It uses the deep space network to transmit and receive telemetry and other data. This remarkable 43-year-old spacecraft and its counterpart keep drifting along on the black cosmic sea, in search of answers to humanity’s most fundamental questions. Godspeed, Voyager craft. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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