After brief interruption, NASA detected Voyager 2's "heartbeat"

Yesterday, NASA announced that the Voyager 2 space probe lost its communication with Earth. According to NASA, "a series of planned commands sent to NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft July 21 inadvertently caused the antenna to point 2 degrees away from Earth." Today though, the space agency announced that received a faint signal from the aging spacecraft that's currently 12.3 billion miles away.

"We enlisted the help of the (Deep Space Network) and Radio Science groups to help to see if we could hear a signal from Voyager 2," Suzanne Dodd, Voyager's project manager, told CNN. "This was successful in that we see the 'heartbeat' signal from the spacecraft. So, we know the spacecraft is alive and operating. This buoyed our spirits."

That said, they still don't expect to have full communication with Voyager 2 until it automatically resets its antenna orientation in October.

From the New York Times:

Officials from the Deep Space Network, a global system used to operate numerous active space missions, detected a carrier signal from Voyager 2. That means the spacecraft is still broadcasting, though the signal is too weak for transmitting data[…]

This isn't the first time NASA has lost the ability to talk to the spacecraft. In 2020, scientists managing the Deep Space Network shut down the sole radio dish capable of talking to Voyager 2 for repairs and upgrades. When it came back online in March 2021, the Voyager 2 was still functioning.

NASA launched the twin Voyagers 1and 2 in 1977 on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these spacecraft is a golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact—the Voyager Golden Record—may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever.