Happy Birthday to Voyager!
News story originally written on August 19, 2002
NASA's Voyager mission is 25 years old and still going strong! Both spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 continue to travel through space sending signals back to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "Back in 1977, we had no way to know they would last so long," says Dr. Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist, about the Voyager spacecraft, "We were initially just on a four-year journey".
The Voyager spacecrafts have discovered some amazing things about our solar system. They found active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io, huge storms on Jupiter, kinks and spokes on Saturn's rings, a hazy atmosphere on Saturn's moon Titan, fast winds on Neptune, and geysers on Neptune's moon Triton, just to name a few!
Scientists hope that both Voyager spacecrafts will still be working when they reach the interstellar space beyond the heliopause, where our Sun has no influence. Even though Voyager 1 is traveling a million miles a day towards the heliopause, it will take between seven and 21 years for it to get there. This is because the heliopause does not always stay in the same position. There is a good chance Voyager 1 will still be working by the time is gets there since it has enough power to keep running until 2020.
Even if it is no longer working when it reaches the heliopause, Voyager 1 will embark on an important mission as it sets out into interstellar space. The spacecraft will head off into the Universe carrying sounds and pictures from Earth. Who knows who (or what) might find our message!