After flying 18.8 billion kilometers, Voyager 2 sent back two words to the earth: Hello, what happened?

When people walk out of the earth and see the vast universe, they have infinite interest in this mysterious space. Exploring the starry sky is a long process, which needs to go on step by step. The first step for human beings to explore the universe is to understand the secrets of the solar system.

The solar system can be divided into inner galaxy and outer galaxy. The inner Galaxy mainly refers to the habitable zone, which contains four earth like planets, namely mercury, Venus, earth and Mars. Three of the four planets are in the habitable zone. Only the earth is a beautiful planet of life, and the others are desolate and abominable.

The exoplanets are four gaseous planets and the Kuiper belt on the edge of the solar system. For scientists, the most mysterious area of the solar system is the edge of the solar system. Because it is far away from the sun and the whole sky is dark, it is difficult for our telescopes to observe the edge. So we don’t know the secrets of the edge of the solar system.

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And the edge of the solar system is the limit position of the solar wind, and beyond the solar wind is interstellar space. What will happen to the radiation and matter in interstellar space after they come into contact with the solar wind is also something scientists are eager to understand. This may be an important step in our understanding of the universe.

It’s hard for telescopes to see more about the edge of the solar system. To understand the secrets there, we need to send detectors to the field. So in 1977, NASA launched two probes in two months. They are the famous Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.

After entering space, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are heading for different ways. Although their goal is to move out of the solar system, their missions are different. Voyager 1’s mission is relatively simple, that is, to go out of the solar system, while Voyager 2’s mission is more, it shoulders the task of exploring various planets all the way.

Because Voyager 2 has many important tasks, although it started earlier than Voyager 1, it broke out of the heliosphere several years later than Voyager 1. Scientists also have higher expectations for Voyager 2, hoping that through its exploration data all the way, we can have a better understanding of the edge of the solar system.

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Voyager 2 started in 1977. After more than 40 years of navigation, it will be 18.8 billion kilometers away from the earth by March 2020. During this journey, Voyager 2 has been able to live up to the expectations of the public. It has successively explored various gaseous planets and continuously sent back precious data for the earth. But in March 2020, Voyager 2 suddenly lost contact.

After eight months of waiting, finally in November 2020, the signal of Voyager 2 was restored again, and it sent back two words to the earth: Hello, what happened? According to scientists’ estimates, Voyager 2 will not run out of batteries until 2025 and lose contact with the ball. Last year, however, there was a loss of contact for as long as eight months, which is unthinkable to many people. So what happened?

Before we solve this mystery, let’s take a look at how Voyager 2 keeps in touch with the earth. The distance scale in the universe is very large, with light years as the basic unit, while Voyager 2 is an interstellar probe, which will go all the way out of the solar system. A strong antenna network is needed to keep in touch with detectors deep in the sky.

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NASA has a deep space network (DSN), which is located in Barstow, California, Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia. Each place has a huge 70 meter diameter dish antenna, which is equivalent to a rotating radio telescope, and several antennas with a diameter of 34 meters or less.

The deep space network composed of these antennas can monitor and communicate the solar activity all day, send commands to the detector and receive data. Voyager’s data communication and reception are accomplished through these three observatories, but Voyager 2’s communication is relatively unique. As we said earlier, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have different routes in space.

Because Voyager 2 has to complete more missions, its flight path is more complex, and it needs to make multiple bends. In 1989, when we flew over the north pole of Triton, because it was the last celestial body that could be visited by the solar system, scientists no longer considered the flight path, but adjusted its orbit closer to Triton, which caused it to deflect southward relative to the planet’s disk. From then on, they went all the way to the black ground.

This flight path makes it relatively difficult for Voyager 2 to communicate with the earth. Two deep space stations in the northern hemisphere can no longer contact it. Only the 70 meter aperture antenna dss43 of Australia in the southern hemisphere has enough powerful transmitter antennas to send commands to it.

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However, since March last year, the dss43 antenna has been running for 50 years, and all kinds of equipment have become obsolete. It is necessary to upgrade the transmitter to meet the needs of other tasks in the future. This upgrade took eight months, and Voyager 2 lost contact with the earth and had to travel alone.

By October 30, 2020, dss43 will have installed a new transmitter, and scientists can’t wait to send several instructions to Voyager 2. 34 hours and 48 minutes later, Voyager 2 replied to the scientists’ instructions: Hello.

The reply of Voyager 2 made scientists happy, which showed that Voyager 2 was normal and could continue to serve us in the eight months after it lost contact. It’s ready for new orders, and 43 years of sailing is not easy for Voyager 2. Moreover, it has stepped out of the heliospheric top and touched the interstellar world. Every time it sends back data, it is very important to human beings.

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Scientists expect to be able to keep in touch with Voyager 2 until it is completely lost in 2025. When the Voyager spacecraft completely lost contact with the earth, its mission has not yet been completed, there is a more important task for mankind waiting for them, that is to find alien civilization.

Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 carry a gold CD, which records the information of human beings and the coordinates of the earth. When they all leave the solar system and enter interstellar space, if they are lucky enough, they may be captured by alien civilizations.

Through the information recorded on the CD-ROM, alien civilizations can know the existence of human beings. Through the coordinate information left on the CD-ROM, alien civilizations may also come to the solar system and contact with human beings. However, I’m afraid it’s hard to say whether the contact between alien civilizations and human beings is a good thing or a bad thing for us. What do you think of this?

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