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Nasa picks up 'heartbeat' signal from more than 12.3 billion miles (19.9 billion km) away from Earth

Nasa has picked up a "heartbeat" signal from its Voyager 2 probe after it lost contact with it billions of miles away from Earth, the space agency said.

Voyager 2 was launched in 1977 - rocketing into space on a mission to explore the outer solar system as well as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The probe is one of a pair sent into space - there is also Voyager 1.

Voyager 2 has taken some of the most famous and detailed images of Earth's neighbourhood as it passed Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

NASA has detected a signal from Voyager 2 after nearly two weeks of silence from the interstellar spacecraft.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Tuesday that a series of ground antennas, part of the Deep Space Network, had registered a carrier signal from Voyager 2 on Tuesday.

"A bit like hearing the spacecraft's 'heartbeat,' it confirms the spacecraft is still broadcasting, which engineers expected," JPL wrote in a tweet.

NASA said Friday that it lost contact with Voyager 2, which is traveling 12.3 billion miles away from Earth, on July 21 after "a series of planned commands" inadvertently caused the craft to turn its antenna 2 degrees away from the direction of its home planet.

What might seem like a slight error had big consequences: NASA said it wouldn't be able to communicate with the craft until October, when the satellite would go through one of its routine repositioning steps.

Now that the scientists know Voyager 2 is still broadcasting, engineers will try to send the spacecraft a command to point its antenna back toward Earth. But program manager Suzanne Dodd told The Associated Press that they're not too hopeful this step will work.

"That is a long time to wait, so we'll try sending up commands several times" before October, Dodd said.

Read more about Voyager 2 here:

CAA Team

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