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Source: Jet Propulsion Labratory

NASA Is Able To Communicate With Spacecraft 13 Billion Miles Away, And We're Impressed

By Dennis Matthew Livesey

It's the little rocket engine that could. NASA scientists announced Friday they successfully fired the secondary thrusters on the interstellar probe Voyager 1 — after they'd been dormant for 37 years. 

For Voyager 1 to continue sending its signal to Earth, it needs to be facing the right direction. But the probe's primary thrusters have begun to degrade over the years, requiring more power to operate. NASA began to consider the secondary system to direct Voyager's orientation, and on November 28, they sent a signal to Voyager, 13 billion miles away. The signal took 19 hours and 35 minutes to reach Voyager, but NASA had to wait another 19 hours for the signal back from Voyager, confirming the thrusters had successfully fired up for the first time since 1980.

Twitter users agreed the announcement was a really big deal.