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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. Their main mission was to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
The Voyager spacecraft were originally designed to have a lifetime of 5 years. The two spacecraft operated so well that the mission was extended. In fact, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still operating even after 20 years of travelling through the solar system!
This extended mission means that the spacecraft are still exploring the outer solar system. The spacecraft passed Pluto and are still travelling outward. Scientists are hoping that the spacecraft will reach the heliopause, where the Sun's influence stops. This would truly be where no spacecraft has gone before!
The Voyager spacecraft are expected to near the heliopause by 2002. If there are no 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 Voyager mission is that it has a camera onboard that is sharp enough to read a newspaper headline from over a half a mile away!
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