NASA has successfully re-established complete contact with Voyager 2, as communication with the space probe was temporarily lost in July due to a wrong command.

On 4 August NASA officially confirmed that data had been successfully received from Voyager 2, indicating that the spacecraft was operating normally.

The communication restoration came after NASA’s mission controllers executed what they termed an “interstellar shout.” The powerful instruction was sent to the spacecraft, directing its antenna orientation back toward Earth. Initially, NASA expected the spacecraft to reset itself in October, but the Voyager 2 probe responded sooner than anticipated.

The spacecraft has explored space since its launch in 1977.

Voyager 2 was launched to study the outer planets of our solar system and eventually venture into interstellar space.

The manoeuvre was not easy. Due to Voyager 2’s distance from Earth—billions of miles away—mission controllers had to patiently wait for 37 hours to receive a response from the spacecraft. The wait was rewarded when NASA received confirmation that the interstellar command worked as intended.

NASA utilised the high-power transmitter during optimal conditions to send a message to Voyager 2. The goal was to align the spacecraft’s antenna with the command despite the vast cosmic distances that separated them.

During the communication loss, Voyager 2 was unable to receive commands or transmit data back to NASA’s Deep Space Network. This is a global array of giant radio antennas used for communication with distant space probes. The restoration of contact means that the spacecraft is now fully operational, and scientific data can be relayed back to Earth.

With communication restored, NASA expects Voyager 2 to continue its journey through the universe. It is armed with a multitude of scientific instruments that have collected data for four decades.

To reconnect with the distant probe, NASA’s dish in Canberra, Australia, struck Voyager 2’s space region with the correct command. After an anxious wait, the first faint “heartbeat” signal was detected, signifying the spacecraft’s response to the “interstellar shout” sent by mission controllers.

Being beyond the heliosphere—the protective bubble generated by the Sun’s particles and magnetic fields—Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, hold an unparalleled position in space exploration. Voyager 1 achieved this milestone in 2012, while Voyager 2 followed suit in 2018. These probes have ventured into interstellar space, offering humankind a view of space beyond our solar system.

The Voyager missions were initially designed to explore Jupiter and Saturn by capitalising on a rare alignment of the outer planets that occurs approximately every 176 years. However, they surpassed all expectations and provided groundbreaking data on Uranus and Neptune as well. Voyager 2 is particularly remarkable for being the only spacecraft to fly past both Neptune and Uranus during its extraordinary journey.

Voyager 1, on the other hand, holds the record for being humanity’s most distant spacecraft, currently located nearly 15 billion miles away. Both probes are expected to exhaust their power after 2025, but their space trajectory is predicted to continue indefinitely. They carry with them a golden record containing sounds and images representing life on Earth.

As Voyager 2 continues its mission, scientists eagerly await the wealth of data it will continue to send back to Earth.