The Historical Story of Voyager 1 & 2

 

Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time

Curiosity at Martian Scenic Overlook

 
 
 

 
 

Voyager 1 and 2 were designed to take advantage of a rare planetary alignment to study the outer solar system up close. With this chance, Voyager 2 targeted successfully Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Status: Extended Mission in Progress

Key Dates

Sept. 5, 1977: Launch / Mar. 5, 1979: Jupiter Flyby / Nov. 12, 1980: Saturn Flyby / Feb. 17, 1998: Became Most Distant Human-made Object / Aug. 16, 2006: 100 Astronomical Units Reached / Aug. 1, 2012: Voyager 1 Enters Interstellar Space.

 

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered the solar system's final frontier. Credit: jpl.nasa.gov

After 40 years, the space travel of Voyager 1 continue

 
 

 VOYAGER 1

The U.S. Flyby spacecraft Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977 in destinations of Jupiter, Saturn and Beyond our Solar System.

oyager 1 flew successfully Jupiter and Saturn systems before continuing out into the farthest most reaches of our solar system. Voyager 1 has been observing the interplanetary medium throughout its journey, and is now in interstellar space since August 2012. On November 29, 2017, engineers successfully fired Voyager 1’s thrusters after 37 years of inactivity.

During the Jupiter leg of its journey, Voyager 1 was to explore the giant planet, its magnetosphere and moons in greater detail than the Pioneer spacecraft that preceded it. Voyager 1 was not only to study Jupiter, but to use it as a springboard to Saturn, using the gravity-assist technique.

Voyager 1 succeeded on all counts, with the single exception of experiments using its photopolarimeter, which failed to operate. 

Jupiter's atmosphere was found to be more active than during the visits of Pioneer 10 and 11. This fact sparking a rethinking of the earlier atmospheric models which could not explain the new features. The spacecraft imaged the moons Amalthea, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, showing details of their terrain for the first time.

One of the most interesting discovery of Voyager 1's was to showing the extreme volcanic activities of Io. It was found that, the heat is generated by its stretching and relaxing occurred every 42 hours. This time is its elliptical orbit that brings it closer to and then farther from the gravity of Jupiter.

This finding revolutionized scientists' concept of the moons of the outer planets. The spacecraft also discovered a thin ring around the planet, making it the second planet known to have a ring, and Thebe and Metis, two new moons.

Voyager 1 was become the second spacecraft to visit Saturn. Its mission there was to explore the planet, its rings, its  moons and its magnetic field in greater detail than was possible for its predecessor, Pioneer 11. Voyager 1 met all of its goals except for the experiments planned for its photopolarimeter, which failed to operate.

In place, the spacecraft found Prometheus and Pandora, two moons shepherding the F ring and, another one, Atlas, which shepherds the A ring. Voyager 1 found the Saturn's largest moon Titan with a thick atmosphere which hides its surface from visible-light cameras and telescopes. However, it was founded that, its atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, like Earth, but with a surface pressure 1.6 times higher than ours.

The spacecraft took also images of five others moons: Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea.  The results has revealed the fine structure of Saturn's ring system and, had permit to add the G ring to the list of known rings. 

Just as it used Jupiter's gravity to reach Saturn, Voyager 1 done the same thing at Saturn to alter its course and increase its speed that giving it a trajectory to the solar system. The spacecraft entered in interstellar space in August 2012 and became the first to cross into that location.

In interstellar space, Voyager 1 can sample what space is like beyond our solar system. It will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerges from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years.

After 40 years, the space travel of Voyager 1 continue

Jupiter's Moons

 
 

Credit: Solarsystem.Nasa.Gov/Missions

Key Dates

Aug. 20 1977: Launch / July 9, 1979: Jupiter Flyby (Closest Approach) / Aug. 26, 1981: Saturn Flyby (Closest Approach)/ Jan. 24, 1986: Uranus Flyby (Closest Approach) / Aug. 25, 1989: Neptune Flyby (Closest Approach)

 

NEPTUNE

URANUS

VOYAGER 2

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to study all four of the solar system's giant planets at close range. It was launched on August 20, 1977, in direction of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, our Solar System and Beyond.

Like its sister spacecraft, Voyager 2 also was designed to find and study the edge of our solar system beyond the orbits of the planets.

It is now exploring the outermost reaches of where the solar wind and the Sun's magnetic field dominate space. In September 2007, it crossed the termination shock, where the speed of the solar wind drops below the speed of sound, at 84 AU or about 13 billion km from the Sun. Since then, Voyager 1 has been operating in the heliosheath environment, a region about 40 to 50 AU (3.7 billion to 4.7 billion km) thick where the solar wind is mixed with the interstellar wind.

During its Jupiter's journey, Voyager 2 exploring the giant planet, its magnetosphere and moons in greater detail than the Pioneer spacecraft dis in the past. Like its sister, Voyager 2 using it as a springboard to Saturn, using the gravity-assist technique.

Voyager 2 succeeded on all counts. It returned spectacular photos of the entire Jovian system, and time-lapse movies made from its images of Jupiter showed how the planet had changed since Voyager 1's visit. Its images of Io revealed changes in the moon's surface and the persistence of its volcanic eruptions. The spacecraft resolved the streaks Voyager 1 had shown on Europa into a collection of cracks in a thick and remarkably smooth icy crust. It also discovered a 14th moon and revealed a third component to the planet's rings.

Voyager 2 was to become the third spacecraft to visit Saturn. Its mission there was to follow up on the pictures and data returned by Voyager 1.

Voyager 2 gave us another close-range look at Saturn and its moons. Using its photopolarimeter, an instrument that had failed on Voyager 1, Voyager 2 was able to observe the planet's rings at much higher resolution and to discover many more ringlets. It also provided more detailed images of the ring spokes and kinks, and of the F-ring and its shepherding moons. Finally, it employed a gravity-assist maneuver at Saturn to help it reach its next destination, Uranus.

Neptune's largest moon, Triton, was found to be the coldest known planetary body in the solar system, with a nitrogen ice "volcano" on its surface. A gravity assist at Neptune shot Voyager 2 below the plane in which the planets orbit the Sun, on a course which will ultimately take the spacecraft out of our solar system.

TRITON

After Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune, NASA formally renamed the entire project of both Voyager spacecraft, the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM). Some year before 2030, Voyager 2 is expected to cross the heliopause-the outer boundary of the vast region of space dominated by the solar wind and the Sun's magnetic field-and reach interstellar space.

In that sense, it can be said that the spacecraft will be able to sample what space is like beyond our solar system. It will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerge from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years. But, realistically...

... as the spacecraft's power supply dwindles, it will need to begin shutting down its instruments. Sometime in 2025 or after, there will be insufficient electricity to power even one instrument, and Voyager 2 will continue its eternal journey among the stars in silence.

After 40 years, the space travel of Voyager 2 continue

The complex terrain of Ariel is viewed in this image, the best Voyager 2 color picture of the Uranian moon. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Following its flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 was to become the first spacecraft to visit Uranus. The planet displayed little detail, but gave evidence of an ocean of boiling water about 800 km below the cloud tops. Curiously, the average temperature of its Sun-facing pole was found to be the same as that of the equator. The spacecraft discovered 10 new moons, two new rings, and a strangely tilted magnetic field stronger than that of Saturn. A gravity assist at Uranus propelled the spacecraft toward its next destination, Neptune.

Voyager 2 is the only human-made object to have flown by Neptune. In the closest approach of its entire tour, the spacecraft passed less than 5,000 km above the planet's cloud tops. It discovered five moons, four rings, and a "Great Dark Spot" that vanished by the time the Hubble Space Telescope imaged Neptune five years later.

Credit: Solarsystem.Nasa.Gov/Missions

Status: Extended Mission in Progress for Voyager 1 & 2