According to CNN, “New York Times” and other local media reports, EST August 4, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and “Voyager 2” re-established communication links.
At 12:29 a.m. local time, the probe reportedly began returning telemetry data, indicating that it was in normal condition and in its intended orbit.
NASA lost contact with Voyager 2 probe, which is nearly 20 billion kilometres away from Earth, on 21 July, and then the agency re-received a “heartbeat signal” from the probe, proving that it was still operational, but communication with the probe had not yet been fully restored.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 has been travelling towards the outer edges of the solar system and into interstellar space, and is the second furthest man-made vehicle from Earth after its sister vehicle, Voyager 1, which is now nearly 24 billion kilometres away. Several of the scientific instruments on board Voyager 2, including the magnetometer and cosmic ray detector, are still functioning and sending data to Earth 46 years after launch.
But on 21 July, NASA’s control centre sent a series of commands that accidentally changed the probe’s orientation, causing its antennae to drift two degrees off the Earth. This meant that the probe’s signal couldn’t reach the satellite antenna on the ground, and the operators couldn’t send any commands to re-point it towards Earth.
Fortunately, they didn’t lose contact completely. On 31 July, NASA detected a weak “carrier signal” from Voyager 2. Normally, if the antenna had been pointed at Earth, this signal would have contained real-time data from the probe, but since the antenna was not pointed, the signal was not strong enough to extract any information.