NASA is scrambling to locate Voyager 2, one of the most renowned space probes in history, after losing communication with it due to a faulty command.
The agency said Friday that it hadn’t communicated with the probe since July 21, when it mistakenly pointed its antenna away from Earth.
The signal is too weak to transmit data, but it indicates that the spacecraft is still operational. Engineers aren’t sure they’ll be able to command the spacecraft because of the antenna’s orientation.
Voyager 2, which has been traveling through space for nearly 46 years, is projected to be out of contact with Earth until at least October, when an autonomous maneuver may bring the antenna back into alignment.
Meanwhile, the probe is traveling at 35,000 miles per hour and is 12 billion miles from Earth. Scientists at NASA know where Voyager 2 is and where it will be in October. Until then, there isn’t much in the vicinity for it to collide with, according to the spokesman.
Because Voyager 2 has little onboard memory, it typically broadcasts data in real time. If the agency is unable to access its data, it may be forced to abandon its 46-year mission.
This is not the first we have gone months without talking to Voyager-2. In 2020, the Deep Space Station 43 – the only one that is used to communicate with the craft – was undergoing repairs so NASA was not able to communicate with it for eight months.
Let’s hope that this is also just a see you later, rather than goodbye!