NASA recently made contact with the distant Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time since March.
The probe left Earth a little over two weeks before its twin, Voyager 1, way back in the summer of 1970. After completing its final primary objectives in the late 80s, the spacecraft entered into an extended mission to study interstellar space.
Voyager 2 is only the second man-made craft to reach interstellar space, achieving the feat in late 2018. Its twin did so in 2012. According to NASA’s mission status page, the craft is currently more than 11.67 billion miles from Earth and is traveling at an estimated rate of around 34,390 mph.
Deep Space Station 43 is the only radio antenna on Earth that can send commands to Voyager 2. The 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) antenna is located in Canberra, Australia, and has been offline since March while workers conducted repairs and made upgrades.
Voyager 2 has been regularly sending status updates and science data to NASA during the downtime but operators haven’t been able to send commands to the probe since earlier this year.
Work won’t be finished on the radio antenna until February but things reached a point late last month where NASA was able to send a command to the craft and received a signal confirming it had received the call.