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Earth to Voyager 2: Standby for connection – after we tip this water out of the dish

Deep Space Network scope tilts to find its targets, or to dispose of the effects of recent rain

Video The venerable Voyager 2 spacecraft is currently more than 19 billion kilometres from Earth, travels at 15 kilometres per second and talks to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) at a torturously slow 160 bits per second.

And today chatting to the probe got a little harder when the DSN node scheduled to log on – the Deep Space Communication Complex in Canberra, Australia – found itself in the path of a rainstorm.

That facility’s Twitter feed revealed that the rain deposited plenty of water in the subreflector of DSS43 – the big dish at the Canberra Complex.

How to empty a subreflector before chatting to a very, very, remote space probe? Easy! You move the dish to tip the water out!

The Complex also revealed that the best way to wash a dish is to let the rain tumble down.

The Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex lies in in an idyllic valley just 20 minutes from some of the city’s suburbs. If you’re ever in town, do visit once it re-opens post-COVID: you'll find many fine exhibits, and at either end of the day you’re a strong chance of spotting kangaroos. The adjacent nature reserve has a fine platypus enclosure.

And at the Complex itself, you can see the dishes’ daily communication schedules and ponder the fates of the many missions the facility follows. ®

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