NASA experts have made contact with Voyager 2 for the first time since March thanks to a key technology update. The agency said mission specialists sent several teams to the probe on October 29 using the recently upgraded Deep Space Station 43 antenna in Canberra, Australia.
The instructions were part of a test of new equipment, including a radio transmitter that hadn’t been replaced for 47 years before Voyager 2 launched. Over the past months, the mission team received status updates and scientific data from the probe, but could not contact it. The problem has now been resolved.
DSS43 is part of a major deep space communications network that ensures that all spaceships outside the Moon can communicate as long as there is line of sight from Earth. However, the antenna in Australia is the only one that can communicate with Voyager 2. The ship is so far away, 11.6 billion miles away, that the Northern Hemisphere antennas cannot “reach” it, and DSS43 is the only Southern Hemisphere antenna powerful enough to send commands.
DSS43 could also play a key role in a new mission to Mars.