Voyager Spacecraft were launched in 1977. The two Voyager Spacecraft flew past Jupiter, Saturn and Voyager 2 went past Uranus and Neptune.
Since their 1977 launch, the probes have discovered strange new worlds and transmitted streams of revolutionary data and eye-popping images that have exploded long-held theories and raised new questions about our solar system.
The Grand Tour
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 took advantage of a once in 176 year planetary alignment to hitch a free ride out of the solar system, passing all 4 giants on the way. Voyager 1 only went to Jupiter and Saturn.
Every 176 years, Earth and the outer planets gather on one side of the sun, allowing close observation in a single flight, or Grand Tour. To exploit this alignment, the Voyager team developed the so-called gravity assist that essentially sling-shot Voyager 1 and 2 from planet to planet.
Voyager 1 - launched 5 September 1977
Voyager 2 - launched August 1977
Voyager 1 - Flyby in March 1979
Voyager 2 - Flyby in July 1979
Voyager 1 - Flyby in November 1980
Voyager 2 - Flyby in August 1981
Voyager 2 - Flyby in January 1986
Voyager 2 - Flyby in August 1989
Both Voyager 1 & 2 are still in action and have left our solar system.
A rare planetary alignment, a visionary team, and two space probes transformed our knowledge of the solar system. Beyond all expectations Voyager is still transmitting 7 billion miles away as it continues out of our solar system into interstellar space, sparking the imagination of a new generation of space visionaries and enthusiasts.
Both Voyagers are energized by the radioactive decay of a Plutonium 238 heat source. This should keep critical subsystems running through at least 2020.
What is Gravity Assist?
Gravity Assist is when a spacecraft uses a larger object such as a planet or a moon to boost the speed of the spacecraft. This is achieved by sending a spacecraft in a close, bent path around the planet, where spacecraft and planet exchange orbital energy.
Voyager's Grand Tour: To the
Outer Planets and Beyond
by Henry C. Dethloff, Ronald A. Schorn
From: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca
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Updated: Saturday 23rd, February, 2013