Science

40 years on, 'Voyager 1' continues to probe deep space

40 years on, 'Voyager 1' continues to probe deep space”

The Galileo and Juno missions to Jupiter and Cassini at Saturn had their origins in Voyager science. Despite its batteries failing, Voyager 1 will continue to travel through space.

The contest launched by NASA aimed to find the flawless goodwill message - under 60 characters long - to commemorate the twin spacecraft that launched in 1977 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

An image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

So, when news came through that Voyager 1 had broken out of the confines of our solar system in 2012, the realisation that the disc is now going to be travelling for potentially billions of years - long after our planet has been consumed by the sun - began to sink in.

Both spacecraft have long-lasting nuclear power plants and continue to communicate with the U.S. space agency across billions of miles.

The Voyager spacecraft presented an opportunity for scientists to actually see Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - and 48 of their moons - up close and personal for the first time.

An image of Saturn taken by Voyager 2.

Among them were the first images of spewing volcanoes on another planet, the discovery of an Earth-like atmosphere on the Jovian moon of Titan and the first signs of a possible vast ocean beneath the dense, icy crust of Europa. Initially Voyager's mission was simply to make it to Jupiter and Saturn, little did they know that both spacecraft would exceed all their expectations.

"The outer solar system went from being fuzzy planets with dots for moons to a whole set of new and unbelievable worlds".

Every bit of communication between Voyager 1 and Earth takes close to a day, so at the time of writing this story, the message will still be on its way to the furthest man-made object in the galaxy.

Voyager 1 photo taken at a distance of 5.3m km from Saturn.

A false-colour image of Uranus.

NASA and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Voyager missions with multiple videos about the epic journeys of the two probes.

He continued: "They have educated us to the unknown wonders of the universe and truly inspired humanity to continue to explore our solar system and beyond".

Encoded on the record is a mix of 115 images, music, sound from the Earth, and greetings in 55 languages, along with written greetings from then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter and United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.

Mr Sagen argued that any extraterrestrials who came across the Golden Records would recognise them as a way of humans trying to say hello.

When the Voyager spacecraft turn 53 in 2030, it is expected that controllers will turn them off, however, they can not be returned and so will continue to travel forever, completing an orbit of the Milky Way galaxy every 225 million years.



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