NASA’s Voyager program was part of a mission to explore the solar system beyond our comfort zone.
Two spacecraft – Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 – were launched several decades ago, and their combined data has provided us with some of the most exciting insights into space exploration yet!
It is these two probes that have enabled us to identify countless new planets, moons, comets, gas giants, and more. Uncovering unprecedented information about our universe on a regular basis.
The Voyager probes represent both a scientific and technological accomplishment in terms of world-leading exploration techniques as well as something inspiring for humans in terms of leaving the safety of our home planet to explore distant worlds.
As such, we can only imagine what secrets are out there waiting for humanity’s curiosity and ingenuity to uncover them through the wonders that comprise the Voyager program.
Voyager Missions Facts for Kids
- Voyager 1 and 2 are NASA spacecraft.
- They launched in 1977 to study the outer solar system.
- They have visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
- Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth.
- Both Voyagers carry a record of Earth sounds, images, and messages.
- They are still sending back data and could operate until 2025.
Overview of Key Points Of Planetary Exploration
Launch: NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 took off from Cape Canaveral during the summer of 1977.
Mission: The goal was to make the most of a 175-year planetary line-up, reducing their travel time.
Objectives: Their studies focused on Jupiter and Saturn, including the rings of Saturn.
Deployment: On August 20 and September 5, respectively, they were ready for takeoff.
Jupiter: On March 5, 1979, Voyager 1 made its journey to Jupiter.
Saturn: Voyager 2 arrived at Saturn on July 9, 1979, while Voyager 1 followed on November 12, 1980.
Uranus & Neptune: The programmed mission was fulfilled, but through remote-control reprogramming, they were also able to reach Uranus (Voyager 2 on January 24, 1986) and Neptune (Voyager 1 on August 25, 1989).
Success: After 5 years in space, both spacecraft achieved their goals – an astonishing feat!
The Voyager Mission to Explore Interstellar Space (VIM)
Heading out into the unknown, two incredible Voyagers took on an interstellar mission in 1977. It was a journey through time and space to explore strange new worlds no human had seen before.
Twelve years later, the twin spacecraft had reached 40 and 31 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Sun – that’s 11 billion miles! But they were just getting started.
In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to enter interstellar space. And in 2018, its companion Voyager 2, followed suit. By 2025 they’ll be even further out – at 13.8 billion and 11.4 billion miles, respectively!
Not only have these adventurers captured stunning images of our Solar System, but each carries a unique message too! Carefully selected by scientist Carl Sagan and linguists from all over the world, this golden disc holds greetings from humanity in 55 languages plus music and video.
Voyager 1 was like no other. In 2012, it became the first spacecraft to cross beyond the heliosphere and enter interstellar space. Since then, it has been flying longer than any other spacecraft in history.
It’s also a record breaker, outstripping its twin Voyager 2 all the way to Jupiter, Saturn, and even beyond. Along the way, it discovered five new moons and even an amazing new ring around Saturn.
And 44 years later (in 2021), Voyager 1 is still going strong in the constellation of Ophiuchus, at a whopping 154 AU (23 billion km) and counting! It’s an incredible testament to human technology and has truly broken boundaries.
From uncovering unknown celestial giants to flying into uncharted galactic realms – we can owe so much of what we know to this intrepid explorer. Even after all these decades, Voyager 1 continues its journey of discovery with enthusiasm and unwavering determination.
Mariners 11 and 12 was the original design behind Voyager 1 and 2. Launching on August 20, 1977, these vessels got just 473 seconds of audio plays at Jupiter during their closest approach at 400,785 miles (645,000 km) away.
This close pass showed us a wide range of objects: Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, Io, Iapetus, and Amalthea moons.
The images that started arriving in 1981 gave us a clear view of what Saturn held in store; ring spokes & kinks, A-ring and F-ring, as well as many smaller bodies like Hyperion, Enceladus, or Tethys, could be seen for the first time. Not even dreaming about Helene Telesto and Calypso yet, which were discovered later on!
During its 4.5-year voyage, Voyager 2 reached Uranus and its newly discovered moons, the first human-made object to do so.
On August 25, 1989, Voyager 2 flew past Neptune from about 2,980 miles (4,800 kilometers).
There are three main features in the planet’s clouds – Scooter, the Great Dark Spot, and the Lesser Dark Spot.
After such discoveries, 12 years later, time ran out, and NASA renamed the project to Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM).
VIM will carry on sending messages back to Earth until their power runs out —with it concluding Voyagers’ eternal travels into space. An incredible insight for many generations to come!