NASA Voyager 1 spacecraft is the farthest man-made object from Earth. It is part of NASA’s Voyager program. It is studying the outer Solar System and is in interstellar space.
The NASA Voyager Program is a USA program that launched two unmanned space missions: ‘Voyager 1’ and ‘Voyager 2’ spacecraft.
Weight: 722 kilogram (1,592 lb)
Power: 420 W – 3 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs)
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena built the spacecraft. It uses plutonium for conversion for electrical power. The cost of the spacecraft from May 1972 through encounter with Planet Neptune was $865 million.
The spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back using radio waves to the Deep Space Network. The further away from Earth the spacecraft is, the longer it takes to communicate with it. Voyager 1 carries a gold record ‘greeting to the universe’ containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.
Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched 5 September 1977 by a Titan IIIE / Centaur from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA.
Voyager 1 was the third spacecraft to visit Planet Jupiter. Voyager 1’s closest approach to Jupiter occurred March 5, 1979 at a distance of 349,000 km. Voyager 1 images gave the first indication of a faint ring around Jupiter. The rings were investigated further when Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter.
In 1980, Voyager 1 used the gravity of Saturn to fling itself slingshot-style out of the plane of the solar system towards the interstellar medium. Voyager 1’s Saturn flyby occurred in November 1980, with the closest approach to Saturn on November 12.
Voyager 1 overtook Pioneer 10 on 17 November 1998 as the most distant human-made object in space.
Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock in December 2004 at about 94 AU from the Sun.
Voyager 1 is now in the heliosheath, which is the outermost layer of the heliosphere. It will most likely be the first probe to leave the Solar System. Voyager 1 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.6 AU per year.
It has been operating for 35 years and is at a distance of 120 astronomical units (1.8×1010 km) as of March 2012.
Did you know?
* Voyager 2 was part of the Voyager program with its sister spacecraft. The twin Voyager 2 probe had been launched on August 20, 1977 It was launched two weeks earlier than Voyager 1.
Its mission ended 20 November, 1980, after visiting the Jovian system in 1979 and the Saturnian system in 1980. It was the first space probe to provide detailed pictures of the two largest planets and their moons.
Voyager 1 Links:
Voyager 1 Jupiter with Europa: By FlyingSinger (Bruce Irving) via Flickr. This photo was taken on December 27, 2005.
NASA Voyager: Latest news, photos and videos.
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