On a voyage with “Voyager”

Voyager program with two space crafts, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Launched in 1977 is the farthest that a man made object has ever travelled. The scientific data from both the space probes gave us new insights into our understanding of our solar system.

Voyager Space Program made use of a unique alignment of planets in 1977 that gave it an opportunity to fly-by all of our outer planets such as Jupiter, Saturn,Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2 was first launched on a trajectory to visit Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune while Voyager 1 which was launched after Voyager 2 with a shorter faster trajectory that allowed it to have a close flyby with Saturn’s moon the Titan.

Images from the spacecrafts showed that Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune had rings like Saturn. It discovered active volcanos on surface of Jupiter’s moon “Io” and discovered that Jupiter’s moon Europa has a large ocean below its icy surface.

View of Europa from Voyager 2

After completing its primary mission of visiting the outer planets, both Voyager 1 and 2 began travelling towards outer solar system. In 1990, Voyager 1 overtook Pioneer 10 and 11 to become the most distant man made object from Earth. On August 25,2012 Voyager 1 became the first man made object to reach interstellar space which was shortly followed by Voyager 2 on December 2018.

How long will Voyager travel further ?

Voyager’s journey beyond the universe would continue for a very long time. But its not too long before which we would lose contact with the space probes. Both Voyager 1 and 2 are powered by Nuclear reactors. The radio active materials lose their radioactivity with time and power produced from the reactors gets reduced.

Many of the scientific instruments onboard the probes including its high resolution camera was shut down to conserve energy. The probes have enough energy and propellents to communicate with earth upto 2025 presumably after which the probes would go dark for ever.

The famous pale blue dot image shot by Voyager 1 showing earth as pale blue dot 5 billion kms away.

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How does Voyager communicate with Earth from such a distance away ? Stay tuned for next post on @arul2810.


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