NASA’s venerable Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached an important milestone.
The Traveler 1 The probe was launched 45 years ago, on September 5, 1977, a few weeks after its twin Voyager 2, but it quickly became obsolete. The two spacecraft are designed to fly over Jupiter and Saturn, to take advantage of the positive advantage Solar System alignment. At the time, no one expected the spacecraft to still be operational after more than four decades. But now, Voyager spans nearly 50 years in space. Voyager 1 is currently more than 14.6 billion miles (23.5 billion km) from a land This distance is more than 157 times the distance from our planet to the Sun – and it travels outward at 38,000 miles per hour (60,000 km/h).
“Today, as both Voyagers explore interstellar space, they provide humanity with observing uncharted territory,” said Linda Spilker, deputy project scientist for the Voyager project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Advertising (Opens in a new tab).
Gallery: Celebrate 45 years of Voyager with these stunning images of our solar system
Voyager 1 in particular has something to celebrate this anniversary, as NASA was recently able to do so Solve the problem This caused the spacecraft to rely on a malfunctioning computer, causing the spacecraft to send meaningless data back to Earth.
Although mission personnel restarted the spacecraft, they are still researching why the change was initiated, according to a statement from NASA.
After its launch in 1977, mission milestones came quickly. First glimpse of Voyager 1 Jupiter in April 1978 and approached the massive planet in March 1979. The spacecraft also glimpsed Jupiter’s moons, including Io, the strange volcanic surface detected by Voyager 1.
Then point the probe up Saturn Its largest moon, Titan, hovered over it in November 1979, just two years after its launch. Voyager 1’s turn to take a closer look at Titan means it hasn’t made any other flights; Instead, its twin Voyager 2 continued to sail toward Uranus and Neptune.
Voyager 1 became the most distant human-made object in 1998, According to NASA (Opens in a new tab)In 2006 it was marked 100 times from Earth to Sun.
In 2012, Voyager 1 entered interstellar space, the region behind the heliosphere, the bubble consists of charged particles constantly flowing from the sun into space. Outside the heliosphere, spacecraft record much more cosmic rays – Fragments of atoms hurled through space – from the particles of the sun.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to study how a star and our sun interact directly with particles and magnetic fields outside our heliosphere,” added Spilker, helping scientists understand the local interstellar neighborhood, overturning some theories about this region and providing information essential for future missions.”
Although four instruments on the Voyager 1 probe are still collecting data to send back to Earth, mission personnel expect that over time they will have to shut down additional instruments and the probe’s nuclear power source is weakening.
In the end, the twin probes will remain silent, even as they continue to zip through space for billions of years.
“Voyager has continued to make amazing discoveries and inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers,” Susan Dodd, Voyager project manager at JPL, said in the same statement. “We don’t know how long the mission will last, but we can be sure the spacecraft will deliver more science surprises as it moves away from Earth.”
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