NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft was back chatting it up Friday after flight controllers corrected a mistake that had led to weeks of silence.
Hurtling ever deeper into interstellar space billions of miles away, Voyager 2 stopped communicating two weeks ago. Controllers sent the wrong command to the 46-year-old spacecraft and tilted its antenna away from Earth.
On Wednesday, NASA’s Deep Space Network sent a new command in hopes of repointing the antenna, using the highest powered transmitter at the huge radio dish antenna in Australia. Voyager 2’s antenna needed to be shifted a mere 2%.
It took more than 18 hours for the command to reach Voyager 2 — more than 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) away — and another 18 hours to hear back. The long shot paid off. On Friday, the spacecraft started returning data again, according to officials at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Voyager 2 has been hurtling through space since its launch in 1977 to explore the outer solar system. Launched two weeks later, its twin, Voyager 1, is now the most distant spacecraft — 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away — and still in contact.