NASA just lately lost get hold of with its Voyager 2 spacecraft. NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to Suzanne Dodd, project manager for the Voyager Interstellar mission, about what happened.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The place agency NASA is waiting to reestablish get hold of with Voyager 2. That spacecraft has been hurtling absent from the Earth given that 1977. In modern weeks, a programming mistake on Earth prompted the company to drop get hold of, leaving NASA waiting for an automated reset to kick in this tumble. Suzanne Dodd, who manages Voyager 2 from a California lab, says it truly is now 13 billion miles away recording information and also all set for get in touch with just in situation.
SUZANNE DODD: It does have this gold file on it that contains the sounds of our earth Earth, and it is on this spacecraft for any upcoming becoming to find it.
INSKEEP: You know, when I to start with browse about the gold document as a kid, I feel, I puzzled, would, you know, any alien lifestyle variety – would they know how to enjoy it? And I’m now recognizing it really is been likely so very long that if it came back to Earth with this gold report, we would have the exact query. Would any individual know how to participate in it?
DODD: Right. It really is a phonographic file. They really hooked up a needle with that record on the outside the house of the spacecraft, so the technological know-how is surely 1970s technological innovation with Voyager.
INSKEEP: The file contains greetings in many languages.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
Unidentified Particular person #1: (Non-English language spoken).
Unidentified Particular person #2: (Non-English language spoken).
Unknown Particular person #3: (Non-English language spoken).
INSKEEP: And also seems of Earth.
(SOUNDBITE OF ANIMALS VOCALIZING)
INSKEEP: So we presume no a person has listened at this stage, but you are getting details. How would you describe to laymen what you happen to be finding out about the universe these last many decades?
DODD: I search at Voyager ideal now as considerably of a temperature satellite, in some techniques. You will find almost nothing to get pictures of. We’ve stopped using pics because we went earlier Neptune. It really is incredibly, incredibly darkish, really, pretty cold in which Voyager is. The sunlight is fundamentally a vivid star to Voyager. But we can measure the natural environment we are touring through. So we evaluate the density of the plasma. We evaluate the vitality stages of charged particles that we see. We measure the photo voltaic wind and the absence of solar wind.
INSKEEP: So what took place with the antennas just lately?
DODD: Nicely, it was a bit regrettable. We sent a command to update its pointing towards the Earth, and there was an error in that command. And so it’s pointed about two levels off of the Earth. And from the length that Voyager 2 is, close to 13 billion miles from us, that