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Voyager 2

By Marty McDowell/NASA

On August 20, 1977, the United States launched Voyager 2. This was the first (and thus far only) craft to make it to Uranus and Neptune. Along the way it discovered 10 moons of Uranus (as well as two rings) and six moons of Neptune.

Read more about the Voyager mission here.


This image of Jupiter was produced from Voyager 2 images taken in June of 1979. The image was produced by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1990. The colors have been enhanced to bring out detail. The light-colored zones circling the planet are bands of ascending clouds while the dark regions are descending. The Great Red Spot can be seen at lower left.

Image courtesy of NASA.

Where are they now?

Where are the Voyager spacecraft now? Quite far away! So far away that signals from the craft take more than 16 hours - at the speed of light - to reach us here on Earth. On November 17, 1998, NASA announced that it was in the process of shutting down power to Voyager 2's scan platform which contains science instruments, including the ultraviolet spectrometer. Turning off the scan platform was part of a power conservation plan to keep Voyager 2 operating until at least the year 2020. There are still five experiments operating on Voyager 2: the cosmic ray instrument, low-energy charged particle instrument, plasma science instrument, plasma wave instrument and the magnetometer. Although Voyager 2 is now more than 8.4 billion kilometers (5.2 billion miles) from Earth, or more than 56 times farther from the Sun than Earth is, it is not the most distant object ever created by humans. That honor belongs to V2's sistercraft Voyager 1, which is currently 10.8 billion kilometers (6.7 billion miles) from Earth. 

Source: NASA.


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Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.



Courtesy of NASA

Launched: August 20, 1977

Destination: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

Arrival: July 4, 1979; August 26, 1981; January 24, 1986; August 25, 1989


Nation: U.S.

Mission: Flybys and photographs/data.

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