This is such a dumb question. There are many space organizations. Let's take ESA for this case. Given the two Voyager spacecraft are transmitting a weak radio signal to the Earth, can ESA command and receive those signals and later calculate the location of the spacecraft and get data of thermoelectric generator conditions, others, etc. independently without the help of NASA, or is there some form of signal encryption that would require ESA to undertake certain action? Provided that ESA can use the Deep Space Network?

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    $\begingroup$ This is a great question! I would suspect that even if the signal is encrypted that the age of the craft means the encryption is trivial to bypass for anyone with the sophistication to communicate with deep space. Do we know what process hardware was on them? $\endgroup$
    – Eric G
    Jun 14, 2021 at 22:22

2 Answers 2


There isn't any encryption. As noted by this CCSDS report, "In the past, civil space missions relied on their uniqueness to deter unauthorized access" rather than encryption. Also, the diagrams in the following descriptions leave no space for an encryption function: Voyager comms and Voyager computer.

Error correcting codes are used, but these are well known (see this answer). The main problem would be knowing the format of the telecommands and telemetry packets. Decoding the telemetry is relatively easy (see Decoding Voyager 1) - knowing what the decoded message means without some information from NASA would be tougher. Similar for the telecommands.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a reference that backs up your assertion "There isn't any encryption" ? Unsupported statements aren't worth a whole lot. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2021 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ True. This report, public.ccsds.org/Pubs/350x0g3.pdf, makes the point that "In the past, civil space missions relied on their uniqueness to deter unauthorized access" rather than encryption - and there the past is pre-2019. Also, the diagrams in the following leave no space for an encryption function: descanso.jpl.nasa.gov/DPSummary/Descanso4--Voyager_new.pdf and allaboutcircuits.com/news/…. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2021 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the information. I made a trivial edit so that I could remove my downvote, which you may revert. Consider including some of that information in an edit to your answer - comments can be transient. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2021 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! Updated the answer as suggested. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2021 at 7:56

I'm pretty sure that NASA/NASA JPL who created the Voyagers are the mission control for them. Just as ESA only controls spacecraft made and maintained by ESA.

The DSN is technically NASA's and they let other organizations use it because they don't have their own personal DSN. So just being able to use the DSN doesn't mean they can send data to any spacecraft that uses it.

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    $\begingroup$ Why is this answer downvoted? Seems decent to me. $\endgroup$
    – ChrisR
    Oct 7, 2021 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisR I haven't voted, but so far I'm not seeing a "yes" or "no" answer to "Can ESA control the two Voyager spacecraft?" It's just some sentences that aren't necessarily incorrect. If you see in it an actual answer to the OP's question, maybe you can make an edit to bring it out more clearly? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:15

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