NASA’s Voyager 1 mission after 40 years

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Voyager 2, which took a different route through the solar system, will likely exit the sun’s sphere of influence in the next few years as well. “It’s amazing that the two spacecraft are still working after 40 years,” said Ed Stone, who has been a Voyager project scientist since the mission’s inception in 1972. A few days ago, at the beginning of this month, Voyager 1 was at 12.97 billion miles (20.87 billion kilometers) from Earth, more than 139 times the distance from our planet to the sun. Voyager 2 was about 10.67 billion miles (17.17 billion km) from Earth.

NASA-POSTER
A NASA free poster

Voyager’s missions discovered many things, including fact that cosmic radiation is incredibly intense beyond the sun’s protective bubble. The probe is also revealing how the “wind” of charged particles from the sun interact with the winds of other stars. The Voyagers are powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators which convert the heat produced by the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 into electricity. There are only 10 years or so of power remaining until we have only enough to power the spacecraft itself, without any of the instruments. Both Voyagers carry a copy of the “Golden Record” which is full of images and sounds of Earth, as well as directions to our planet. At their launch moment, this was a hope to meet alien worlds. Now, some voices on the Earth said we can’t be sure that aliens. if exist, are so polite that we expect. NASA is celebrating the anniversary with a set of free, beautifully designed posters.

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