From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
A scheduled eleven month upgrade to one of the three Deep Space Network antennas used to communicate with planetary missions will prevent scientists from sending commands to Voyager 2 during that time period.
Data will still be downloaded, but if anything should go wrong, such as happened in January, it will be impossible to do anything about it. In January engineers were able to troubleshoot the problem and upload corrections. During these upgrades a fix will have to wait. To reduce the chance of serious issue, engineers will put Voyager 2 into a more dormant state during this time period.
The repairs are essential however, even if it means we lose Voyager 2. This network must work for all the other Moon and Mars missions planned for the next few decades, and an upgrade has been desperately needed for years.
Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.
This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.
This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.
Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
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