VOYAGER 2 SPACECRAFT (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Sci & Tech)

News-CRUX-10     4th August 2023        
Samadhaan

Context: More than a week after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) lost communication with Earth’s longest-running space probe, Voyager 2, the space agency detected a “heartbeat” signal from the spacecraft.

  • Although too faint for extraction of data, the detected signal confirms that Voyager 2, which is about 19.9 billion kilometres away from Earth, is still operating.
  • On July 21, a faulty command sent to the probe caused its antenna to point 2 degrees away from Earth. 
  • As a result, Voyager 2 is currently unable to receive commands or transmit data back to Earth.

Voyager 2 Spacecraft

    • It is a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977.
    • It is part of the Voyager program, which also includes Voyager 1.
  • Primary mission: To study the outer planets of our solar system and their moons, and then continue on an interstellar mission.
  • It is the second spacecraft to enter interstellar space.  On Dec. 10, 2018, the spacecraft joined its twin—Voyager 1—as the only human-made objects to enter the space between the stars.
  • It carries a Golden Record, a phonograph record containing sounds and images from Earth, intended to be a message to any potential extraterrestrial civilizations it might encounter in the future.:
  • It is the only spacecraft to study all four of the solar system's giant planets at close range.
  • It discovered a 14th moon at Jupiter.
  • It was the first human-made object to fly past Uranus.
  • At Uranus, Voyager 2 discovered 10 new moons and two new rings.
  • It was the first human-made object to fly by Neptune.
  • At Neptune, Voyager 2 discovered five moons, four rings, and a "Great Dark Spot."
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