Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SPACE TRAVEL
Forty years on, Voyager still hurtles through space
By Kerry SHERIDAN
Miami (AFP) Aug 27, 2017


Are we alone?

Forty years ago, NASA rocket scientists sought to answer this question by launching the Voyager spacecraft, twin unmanned spaceships that would travel further than any human-made object in history.

They are still traveling.

When Voyager 1 and 2 launched about two weeks apart in 1977 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, scientists knew little about the outer planets in our solar system, and could hardly imagine the scope of their upcoming space odyssey.

"None of us knew, when we launched 40 years ago, that anything would still be working, and continuing on this pioneering journey," said Voyager project scientist Ed Stone.

Voyager's main mission was to explore other planets including Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, but it also carried the story of humanity into deep space.

On board each Voyager is a golden record -- and record player -- that is built to last one billion years or more and contains key information about humanity and life on planet Earth, in case of an alien encounter.

The sounds include the calls of humpback whales, the Chuck Berry song "Johnny B. Goode," Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, a Japanese shakuhachi (a type of flute), a Pygmy girls' initiation song, and greetings in 55 languages.

Late American astronomer Carl Sagan, one of the lead scientists involved with the project, also asked his son, Nick, who is now 46, to record his voice on it.

"Hello, from the children of planet Earth," says the young American boy.

A total of 115 images are encoded in analog form, including the Great Wall of China, telescopes, sunsets, elephants, Jane Goodall with chimps, an airport, a train, a breastfeeding mother, dolphins and images of the human sex organs.

- Exploring other worlds -

Voyager 2 launched first, on August 20, 1977, followed by Voyager 1 on September 5 on a faster, shorter trajectory that would eventually take it into the lead.

The timing of the mission took advantage of a rare planetary alignment that only happens every 175 years, along with "gravity-assist" boosts from passing by planets that minimized the fuel needed.

But Voyager faced many challenges from the start, from tight budgets to the limits of modern technology in the 1970s.

One project scientist famously recalled wrapping Voyager's cables in aluminum foil -- the store-bought kind for kitchen use -- to protect the spacecraft from frying in heavy radiation.

Then-president Richard Nixon wanted to contain the mission to a two-planet flyby and a five-year life, but scientists building Voyager planned for a longer mission just in case.

The cosmic duo went on to unveil planetary features unlike anything ever seen, including details about the surface of Jupiter with its raging storm the size of two Earths, known as the Great Red Spot.

"These were, at that point, better pictures than any ground-based telescopes could provide," said Alan Cummings, a senior research scientist at Caltech who worked on the project beginning in 1973.

The Voyager mission also discovered the first active volcanoes beyond Earth on Jupiter's moon Io, and signs of a subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa.

Saturn's moon, Titan, turned out to have the most Earth-like atmosphere in the solar system, while Neptune's moon Triton was revealed to be spewing icy geysers.

- 'Cherish that blue dot' -

Astronomy textbooks were rewritten on a wide scale, thanks to Voyager, which zoomed past Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus and "revolutionized the science of planetary astronomy," NASA said in an online remembrance of the famed mission.

When Voyager had no more planets to be encountered on its trajectory, Carl Sagan pressed to have its cameras turn back toward Earth for a final snap of the planet that sent it.

From four billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away, the images were taken on Valentine's Day, 1990.

The Earth appeared as tiny as a speck of dust in a sunbeam, less than a single pixel in the vastness of space.

"I think this perspective underscores our responsibility to preserve and cherish that blue dot, the only home we have," Sagan told a press conference at the time.

- Where are they now? -

Voyager 1 has traveled father than any human-made spacecraft, and made it to interstellar space, about 13 billion miles away from Earth, in August 2012.

Voyager 2 is on its way there too, and is the only spacecraft to have flown by all four outer planets in our solar system.

The plutonium-powered spaceships will continue until they finally run out of fuel, and will then orbit in the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Cummings said the cameras stopped working a long time ago, but about five instruments still collect data.

Scientists still hear from the Voyager spacecraft daily, and expect to get data for about another decade.

"It is still discovering new things because it is going where nothing has been before," said Stone.

SPACE TRAVEL
NASA: let's say something to Voyager 1 on 40th anniversary of launch
Washington (AFP) Aug 15, 2017
NASA is seeking suggestions from the public for a message to beam far, far out into space to the probe Voyager 1 in time for the 40th anniversary of its launch. The US space agency wants input via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media, and the public will vote on what short message we on earth should send to the intrepid, overachieving little space traveler. NASA said on it ... read more

Related Links
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

SPACE TRAVEL
Setting the Spaceplane Stage

Lockheed Martin Powers-up Next Orion Spacecraft for First Time

Turning human waste into plastic, nutrients could aid long-distance space travel

NASA should continue large strategic missions to maintain leadership in space

SPACE TRAVEL
SpaceX launches Taiwan's first home-built satellite

Wind Tunnel Test of Deep Space Rocket Calls For New Coat of Paint

Falcon 9 launches from Vandenberg

SpaceX unveils peek at sleek new spacesuit

SPACE TRAVEL
Opportunity staying put for a bit to image valley

For Moratorium on Sending Commands to Mars, Blame the Sun

Tributes to wetter times on Mars

Opportunity will spend three weeks at current location due to Solar Conjunction

SPACE TRAVEL
China's satellite sends unbreakable cipher from space

Xian Satellite Control Center resolves over 10 major satellite faults in 50 years

China develops sea launches to boost space commerce

Chinese satellite Zhongxing-9A enters preset orbit

SPACE TRAVEL
ASTROSCALE Raises a Total of $25 Million in Series C Led by Private Companies

LISA Pathfinder: bake, rattle and roll

Bids for government funding prove strong interest in LaunchUK

Blue Sky Network Reaffirms Commitment to Brazilian Market

SPACE TRAVEL
Researchers discover new class of chemical reaction

Nanoparticle ink produces glowing holograms with simple inkjet printer

Myanmar's startups map past, shape future with virtual reality

Understanding brittle crack behaviors to design stronger materials

SPACE TRAVEL
A New Search for Extrasolar Planets from the Arecibo Observatory

Gulf of Mexico tube worm is one of the longest-living animals in the world

Molecular Outflow Launched Beyond Disk Around Young Star

Earth-like planet in star system only 16 light years away

SPACE TRAVEL
New Horizons Video Soars over Pluto's Majestic Mountains and Icy Plains

Juno spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot

New evidence in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis

Scientists probe Neptune's depths to reveal secrets of icy planets




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement