Monday, May 13, 2024

Madrid Deep Space Network Reaches NASA's Voyager 1 across 24 billion kilometers

Madrid Deep Space Network Reaches NASA's Voyager 1 across 24 billion kilometers

"By Their Powers Combined": This April 20, 2024, image shows a first—all six radio frequency antennas at the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex in Spain, part of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), carried out a test to receive data from the agency’s Voyager 1 spacecraft (1977-2024) at the same time.

Combining the antennas’ receiving power, or arraying, lets the DSN collect the very faint signals from faraway spacecraft. Voyager 1 is over 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away, so its signal on Earth is far fainter than any other spacecraft that the DSN communicates with. It currently takes Voyager 1’s signal over 22 ½ hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. To better receive Voyager 1’s radio communications, a large antenna—or an array of multiple smaller antennas—can be used. A five-antenna array is currently needed to downlink science data from the spacecraft’s Plasma Wave System (PWS) instrument. As Voyager gets further way, six antennas will be needed.

The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are still operating and traveling where no spacecraft—or anything touched by humanity—has gone before. As we celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Voyager 1 launch later this year, we will again reflect on the vision that inspired the mission, its greatest achievements, and its enduring legacy.

Image Description: In a nighttime landscape of rolling grasses and trees, six large off-white satellites face to the right. Each satellite has bright spotlights near it, but the surrounding area remains mostly dark.

Image Credit: MDSCC/INTA, Francisco “Paco” Moreno

Release Date: May 1, 2024

#NASA #Astronomy #Science #Space #VoyagerSpacecraft #Voyager1 #Planets #Jupiter #Saturn  #SolarSystem #Interstellar #MilkyWayGalaxy #SpaceExploration #RadioTelescopes #DSN #Madrid #Spain #España #JPL #Caltech #California #History #UnitedStates #STEM #Education

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