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Voyager Space Probes

Voyager Probes Launch

The Voyager Space Probes are two deep space probes that were launched by N.A.S.A. in the 1970's. The first Voyager 1 was launched on September 5th, 1977 with it sister probe Voyager 2 launched on August 20th, 1977, days earlier. They along with Pioneer 10 space probe are the furthest man made objects from Earth. Whilst the Pioneer 10 space probe is no longer being listened to as of January 23rd, 2003. They were launched to take advantage of the closeness of the two major gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn.The Voyager probes are still in operation. They were the inspiration for being the antagonists in Star Trek, the Motion Picture.

Artists impression of Voyager space probe in space

After their original missions had ended, the people at NASA decided to extend their missions and send them out to the outer planets Uranus and Neptune. They will not be visiting the dwarf planet Pluto as their paths are not in alignment. The New Horizons space probe is currently on its way to Pluto expecting to arriving in 2015.

A Message to Aliens

Each probe contains a golden disc like the one below. On it, it shows where our planet is. If you're thinking that I've got it wrong because there are no pictures of naked people, that is because those people are on the Pioneer 10 crafts, not voyager. It is hope that if the crafts ever came into contact with aliens then they would be able to decipher the images and come and make friends. The golden discs contains voice recordings from different nationalities on Earth with a variety of welcome messages.

Photo of the Voyager golden disk.

The only aliens they would have chance of coming into contact are those that have the ability to do warp speeds. It is estimated that Voyager 1 will take the 40,000 years to come within 1.6 light years light years to AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis. Voyager 2 will take the same length of time to come within 1.7 light years of Sirius. Both probes have enough power to last until 2020 by which time they will be 12.4 Billion miles (Voyager 1) and 10.5 Billion Miles (Voyager 2) from the Earth.

Communication and Distance of Voyagers

It was announced in August 2012 that Voyager 1 had passed through the Heliosphere, the edge of the Sun's influence before being met by interstellar radiation. That was not confirmed for another year though. Voyager 1 is at a distance of 128 AU at present. An AU is the distance between Earth and the Sun. You can see where they are in realtime on the NASA page. It is believed that Voyager 1 will reach the comets at a distance of 1 Light Year from the Sun.">Oort Cloud in about 300 years but we will not have any data sent back due to the power having run out.

The Voyagers will keep travelling until they are destroyed, either by an object such as a planet or an asteroid or burn up in a star for example. They won't keep transmitting signals whilst they are in one piece, they will ony carry on transmitting until the battery dies.

The small battery on the Voyager probe is expected to last for about 88 years, all the time, still transmitting data back to N.A.S.A. The battery is powered by nuclear material so you're not going to find it anytime soon in a mobile phone... Mashable

New Horizons will never catch up Voyager 1 because New Horizons will not increase speed and besides they are going in different directions.

Voyager 1 passed Pioner 10 to become the most distant man-made object in space on the 17th February 1998. Unlike the Pioneers, the Voyager mission is still active. The Pioneers probes were shut down.

Voyager 2 remains the only space craft that has ever visited the outer gas giants of Uranus and Neptune. There are future plans to visit those gas giants but nothing concrete. Money would be the main factor to take into account as to when to send to Neptune and / or Uranus.

Speed of the Voyager Space Probes

Although Pioneer 10 was launched beforehand, Voyager 1 overtook Pioneer 10 on February 17th 1998 and is currently the furthest man made item from Earth. The Voyagers are also the fastest moving man-made items, faster than a speeding bullet. Voyager 1 is moving faster than the New Horizons probe which was sent to Pluto. Quora The home page of Voyager space probes is at NASA.

Voyager 1 is travelling at 62,140 km/h whilst Voyager 2 is slightly slower at 57,890 km/h. For comparison, New Horizons is travelling at 58,536 km/h. In addition to the rocket assisting its journey from Earth, it was able to increase its speed by using gravity assistance from the gas giants such as Jupiter.

New Horizons space probe is called the fastest man made object because unlike the Voyager probes, it didn't rely on gravity assists to get up to speed.

Discoveries made by Voyager Space Probes

The most surprising thing that the Voyager space probes probably discovered was that Jupiter has a ring system like Saturn. Jupiter's rings are faint compared to Saturn which is why it was only when we visited the planet did we see them for the first time.

Both Voyagers discovered additional moons around the planets, ones that we were unable to detect from Earth.


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