NASA scientists have been unable to establish a connection with the Voyager-2 probe since January this year. Then there were problems with communication, the device entered the safety mode and did not perform the planned maneuver. The probe was to be rotated 360 degrees to calibrate the magnetic field instrument. This means that the two power-hungry systems were running at the same time, exhausting the available energy resources. This was probably what contributed to the problems.
There would be nothing extraordinary about it, as it is not the Movies Front time that space devices have lost communication with Earth, if not for the fact that the Voyager-2 probe is now as much as 18.5 billion kilometers from Earth. If scientists send a command to the probe, the signal does not reach it until 17 hours. Of course, it is also out of the question to send astronauts there who will sort things out quickly and efficiently.
At the end of January, it was possible to quickly connect to the probe and turn off one of the above-mentioned power-hungry systems, allowing some scientific instruments to be turned on. The second system was also shut down later. The final device performed the correctly planned maneuver. However, scientists in the following months had no reason to be delighted. Due to the pandemic, no connections were made to the probe, so no one knew what its condition was.
The problem was the modernization of the Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43) communication system, which is located in Australia. It is currently the only antenna capable of connecting to the probe. The pandemic delayed the work on the system and the lack of contact with the probe lasted as long as 8 months. Fortunately, astronomers have just managed to connect to Voyager-2. The device sent greetings from the mysterious interstellar space.
In November, NASA announced that Voyager-2 had sent the first major message from this space. Scientists received a data packet that slightly disturbed their ideas about this part of the solar system. It turns out that the measuring instruments still record the solar wind particles, despite having already defeated the heliopause. Scientists are very surprised because nothing like this happened with Voyager-1.
Both probes have now passed the Kuiper Belt and are headed for the Oort Cloud. It will take them at least another 80 years to reach its outer space, and travel 13,000 years. When that happens, we can say that they have left the Solar System for good.
Voyager probes get to know the mysterious and unknown border of the heliosphere, but also spectacular pictures of the largest planets of the Solar System. So NASA decided not to write off these devices. The agency intends to maintain contact with them for at least 5 more years. In 2025, problems with the proper functioning of the instruments installed on their decks will begin.
This is related to the inexorable decline in the efficiency of small nuclear power plants, or rather radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which provide them with valuable energy. In the coming years, the agency intends to gradually turn off individual instruments in order to save valuable energy for carrying out the most important goals of the mission.