Voyager 1 and the case of the wrong star

Voyager 1NASA temporarily loses contact with unmanned space probe Voyager 1 as it cruises toward Saturn. A science experiment is conducted which requires Voyager to point its antenna away from Earth and enter a rolling maneuver, but ground controllers do not hear back from Voyager 1 when they expect to receive the signal that the experiment has ended. A tracking station in Australia sends a wide-beam command to Voyager 1 to reorient itself; it is later discovered that, attempting to regain its orientation with respect to Earth, Voyager 1’s star tracker locked on to Alpha Centauri instead of Canopus, pointing its antenna dish five degrees away from Earth. Normal operations resume once Voyager is pointed correctly. A similar problem will again cause Voyager 1 to break contact after a course correction burn in December.