After days of silence, NASA has heard back a spacecraft it lost contact with following a mildly embarrassing case of human error.
The space agency hadn’t heard a peep from Voyager 2 since last week, when flight commanders accidentally pinged across an incorrect command that saw it tilt its antenna away from Earth.
But NASA‘s collection of giant radio satellites around the world, known as the Deep Space Network, has now picked up a “heartbeat signal”.
Project manager Suzanne Dodd said it meant the 46-year-old craft was alive and operating.
Given the spacecraft is billions of miles from our planet, it was feared it might take until October to re-establish contact, as that’s when it’s due for an automatic reset.
Commanders now have a chance to change that by moving Voyager 2’s antennas back towards Earth, although they are not confident of success.
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Voyager 2 certainly knows its way around the cosmos – it was launched way back in 1977.
It’s managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and is the only spacecraft to have visited either Neptune or Uranus – our Solar System’s ice giant planets.
It’s also visited gas giants Jupiter and Saturn.
Its identical twin, Voyager 1, is also still in space and in touch with Earth from a whopping 15 million miles away. It’s humanity’s most distant spacecraft.
Both craft are to be powered down over the next few years, potentially as soon as 2025.