Voyager 2, the space probe launched by NASA in 1987, which is now more than 120 astronomical units away, almost in interstellar space, has resumed communication returning to normal operations as reported in a statement on the site of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
On January 25 this year, in fact, there had been an anomaly and the five scientific instruments with which the probe is equipped were disabled for safety.
Now engineers and scientists have reactivated the instruments discovering that they continue to work and that communications between the Earth and the probe are also quite good since the telemetry continues to arrive. This means that Voyager 2 has resumed collecting data as it has done over the last forty years and more.
The probe is powered by a radioisotopic thermoelectric generator that transforms the color caused by the decay of a radioactive material, present in small doses inside a small chamber of the probe, into electricity. The energy budget of the probe decreases by about four watts per year.
At the same time, operators from Earth also have to worry about the probe’s heating, especially the fuel lines, which would break if they were to freeze and the probe itself would no longer be able to do things like pointing its antenna at Earth.
The temperature of these pipes and the probe in general is kept more or less constant through the use of small heaters that take advantage of the little excess heat from the on-board electrical instrumentation.
The engineers then re-evaluated its distance from Earth, which has now been estimated at 18.5 billion kilometres. The communications coming from the probe take about 17 hours to reach Earth and any command sent from Earth takes the same time of course.
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