Click on image for full size
Happy Anniversary Voyager!
News story originally written on August 22, 1997
The Voyager program is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were both launched in the summer of 1977 from Cape Canaveral. Their main mission was to explore Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its rings, Neptune, and Uranus.
The Voyager spacecraft were originally designed to have a lifetime of 5 years. The two spacecraft operated so smoothly that the mission was extended. In fact, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still operating even after 20 years of travelling outward through the solar system.
This extended mission means that the spacecraft are continuing to explore the outer solar system environments. Scientists are hoping that the spacecraft will reach the heliopause boundary, the limit of the Sun's influence. This would truly be where no spacecraft has gone before! Penetration of the heliopause boundary between the solar wind and the interstellar medium will allow measurements to be made of the interstellar fields, particles and waves unaffected by the solar wind. The Voyager spacecraft are expected to near the heliopause by 2002. Barring any serious system failures, it is expected that the two spacecraft will survive another 20 years at which time their power sources will run out.
An interesting bit of trivia from the overall Voyager mission is that a total of 11,000 workyears have been put into the program through the Neptune encounter. This is only one-third the amount of effort estimated to complete the great pyramid at Giza to King Cheops.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more