Whew. Voyager 2 is back on track. The well-known probe is gathering data again after recovering from a glitch in interstellar space.
NASA’s Voyager 2 launched in 1977. The space probe is currently exploring interstellar space around 18.5 billion kilometers (11.5 billion miles) away from us.
Two years ago it became the second human-made object to enter interstellar space, joining its twin Voyager 1.
So, in late January, power overuse interrupted the probe’s operations, shutting off its science instruments.
But NASA announced yesterday (March 3), that all five remaining instruments on Voyager 2 are back on and returning data.
“The five operating science instruments, which were turned off by the spacecraft’s fault protection routine, are back on and returning normal science data,” the space agency said.
All right now, baby, it’s all right now! My twin, Voyager 2, is back to normal operations.— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) March 4, 2020
The five science instruments turned off by the spacecraft's fault protection routine are back on and returning data. Solid. https://t.co/dZQ9Xydv8Y pic.twitter.com/XF7yy49l9y
Voyager 2 experienced the anomaly when it attempted a roll to calibrate its magnetic-field instrument, drew too much power and accidentally tripped safety software.
Recovering a machine that isn’t even located in our solar system is not an easy task. Troubleshooting for the spacecraft is a slow process because of its distance from Earth. It takes 17 hours for each command to reach the probe and for data indicating its efficacy to reach engineers.
But Voyager being Voyager, despite its age, still continues to beam back valuable data about the cosmic world.
You May Like This: Voyager 2 Is Back Online And Gathering Data
The spacecraft has long exceeded its mission expectancy. So, engineers have needed to improvise ways to keep the probe going, particularly as its power supply diminishes.
Now that Voyager 2 is back, its five remaining science instruments are back to work.
The remaining instruments are a magnetic field sensor, two instruments to detect energetic particles in different energy ranges and two instruments for studying plasma (a gas composed of charged particles).
They are helping scientists understand what happens beyond the heliosphere, the bubble of space influenced by our sun. Voyager 2 left that bubble in November 2018, entering interstellar space.
But do you know how NASA knew that the probe had entered interstellar space?
When Voyager 2 exited the heliosphere last year, scientists announced that its two energetic particle detectors noticed dramatic changes: The rate of heliospheric particles detected by the instruments plummeted, while the rate of cosmic rays (which typically have higher energies than the heliospheric particles) increased dramatically and remained high. The changes confirmed that the probe had entered a new region of space.