They thought it was gonna be a long, long time.
The good news comes far ahead of schedule as experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California recently expressed worry that they would need to wait until October for Voyager 2 to do a scheduled full-system reset.
Voyager 2 — which was off kilter by 2% — had finally been reached when NASA’s Deep Space Network facility in Canberra, Australia, successfully sent a “shout” signal equivalent beyond 12.3 billion miles to the probe.
Upon receipt, Voyager 2 was given instructions “to reorient itself and turn its antenna back to Earth,” the Jet Propulsion Lab announced.
“With a one-way light time of 18.5 hours for the command to reach Voyager, it took 37 hours for mission controllers to learn whether the command worked,” NASA added.
The program also noted that the spacecraft “began returning science and telemetry data” just before 12:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Such information is a major indicator that Voyager 2 “is operating normally and that it remains on its expected trajectory.”
Voyager 2 — along with counterpart Voyager 1 — had initially been launched in 1977 to flyby our solar system’s outer, jovian planets as a way to collect information on the gas giants.
In 2018, Voyager 2 reached a major threshold by exiting the sun’s protective belt, known as the heliosphere, and crossed into the void of interstellar space.
Recently, the Jet Propulsion Lab has been reanalyzing 1980s data obtained by Voyager 2 which points to potential life on several moons surrounding Uranus.