June 26, 2022

NASA is shutting down Voyager probes after 45 years. Here are some photos to celebrate them

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

With some data issues occurring, NASA has decided to slowly start shutting down the Voyager probes after 45 years in operation. It started with heaters and other nonessential components, and the record-breaking spacecraft will remain operable until around 2030 when their journey will end.

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

This program is remarkable and groundbreaking for so many reasons, starting with the very lifespan of the spacecraft. So, to celebrate them and their contribution, we’re sharing some of the epic photos they took over their long career.

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

NASA launched interstellar probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 way back in 1977. They were meant to take advantage of a favorable alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, fly near them, collect the data and transmit them back to Earth. But after the launch, the scientists decided to send Voyager 2 near Uranus and Neptune as well. Interestingly enough, the spacecraft were made to last five years – but they have exceeded all expectations and have lasted forty years more!

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

With the 45-year-long operation, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have broken many records. First, not surprisingly, it’s the longest-operating spacecraft ever launched. On 17 February 1998, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10, by which it became the most distant human-made object in space. And before the New Horizons spacecraft made the new record, Voyager 1 held it for the photos taken the furthest from the Earth.

Speaking of photos taken with the Voyager, many of them were groundbreaking. Certainly the most famous one is Pale Blue Dot, a part of the first-ever “portrait” of the solar system taken by Voyager 1.

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

Credit: NASA

Before we move on to the rest of the images, here’s a curiosity: Both Voyager spacecraft carry a phonograph record as a greeting to any form of life they may encounter along the way. The 12-inch gold-plated copper disk contains “sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth,” NASA explains.

“The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages.”

“We’re at 44 and a half years,” said Ralph McNutt, a physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), “so we’ve done 10 times the warranty on the darn things.” But still, this is an emotional time for all the scientists who worked on the project and people who have been following the spacecraft’s journey throughout the years. “If everything goes really well, maybe we can get the missions extended into the 2030s,” Linda Spilker, a planetary scientist from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Scientific American. “It just depends on the power. That’s the limiting point.”

Finally, here are some of the photos the spacecraft have taken over these 45 years. Even though the operation is slowly winding down, I hope that Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 will break a few more records before their long journey is over.

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

This picture of a crescent-shaped Earth and Moon — the first of its kind ever taken by a spacecraft — was recorded Sept. 18, 1977, by NASA’s Voyager 1 when it was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

Early Voyager 1 images of Jupiter, part of a set taken by Voyager 1 on December 10 and 11, 1978 from a distance of 83 million km (52 million miles) or more than half the distance from the Earth to the sun. Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

 Voyager 1’s first close-up of Jupiter. Taken on Saturday, Jan. 6, 1979, the first in its three-month-long, close-up investigation of the largest planet.

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

Jupiter. This image was obtained on June 29, 1979, when Voyager 2 was 9.3 million kilometers (5.6 million miles) from the planet. Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

In this Voyager 2 image of Saturn, obtained Aug. 11, 1981, from a range of 14.7 million kilometers (9.1 million miles), north is at the upper right edge of the disc. Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

This color image of the Jovian moon Europa was acquired by Voyager 2 during its close encounter on Monday morning, July 9, 1979. Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

This photograph of the southern hemisphere of Jupiter was obtained by Voyager 2 on June 25, 1979, at a distance of 12 million kilometers (8 million miles). Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

Titania, the highest-resolution Voyager picture: This is the highest-resolution picture of Titania returned by Voyager 2. The picture is a composite of two images taken Jan. 24, 1986, through the clear filter of Voyager’s narrow-angle camera. Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

Ariel at Voyager Closest Approach: This picture is part of the highest-resolution Voyager 2 imaging sequence of Ariel, a moon of Uranus about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) in diameter. The clear-filter, narrow-angle image was taken Jan. 24, 1986, from a distance of 130,000 km (80,000 mi). Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA Is Shutting Down Voyager Probes After 45 Years. Here Are Some Photos To Celebrate Them

This is an image of the planet Uranus taken by the spacecraft Voyager 2 in 1986.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

[via Business Insider]

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