The Voyager 2 probe, the longest-lived of the space age, is 45 years old. The spacecraft was launched on August 20, 1977, crossed the boundaries of the solar system in 2018 and is still active in interstellar space, from which it recently sent previously unseen data.
With the Voyager 1 twin, launched 15 days later, Voyager 2 is the protagonist on a record-breaking mission.
Powered by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the two probes are also very special messengers, carrying into interstellar space a communication energy for Earth and its inhabitants: a gold-plated disk designed to last more than a billion years. The sights and sounds of life on our planet, diagrams of basic scientific laws and greetings in many languages.
Both Voyagers crossed the solar system, and they chased each other, with Voyager 1 reaching Jupiter and Saturn before its companion, while Voyager 2 was the first and so far only beach to approach Uranus, in 1986, and then to Neptune, in 1989, Sending the first close-up images of those planets far from Earth.
In 2013, Voyager 1 was the first to enter interstellar space, followed six years later by its twin.
“Both investigations continue to send observations to humanity from uncharted territories,” notes the project’s deputy scientific director, Linda Spilker, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Susan Dodd, the mission’s director, added that Voyagers “continue to make surprising discoveries.” “We don’t know how long the mission will last, but we are sure that it will continue to provide us with many scientific surprises.”
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