NASA is going to turn off the Voyager probes: here are their best space photos

NASA is going to turn off the Voyager probes: here are their best space photos

images taken by the traveler

The Voyager space probes – the most distant cameras in the universe – are powered down after 44 years of interstellar travel.

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have gone further into space than any man-made object in history. Both were launched in 1977 to photograph a fortuitous alignment of planets in our solar system.

Saturn's rings
A Voyager probe took this false-color image of Saturn’s rings on August 23, 1981.
Neptune, seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.

The Voyager program was able to enjoy a moment of cosmic coordination when Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were all aligned so that the probes could visit each of these planets on their one-way trip away from Earth.

The probes captured images of Jupiter’s clouds, discovered new phenomena like volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon Io, and studied Saturn’s rings.

NASA used three Voyager 2 images – taken through ultraviolet, violet and green filters – to make this photograph of Saturn.
Mirana, the moon of Uranus
Voyager images of Uranus’ moon Miranda have revealed its complicated geological past.
Triton, Neptune’s moon, seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.

NASA previously said Voyagers “were destined – perhaps forever – to wander the Milky Way.” But plutonium-powered radioactive probes lose energy by about four watts a year.

Launched 45 years ago, NASA has taken the decision to reduce the power of the probes, which could extend their lifespan by a few more years until around 2030. Initial projections called for the Voyager mission to last only four years.

“We did 10 times the guarantee on the damn things,” said Ralph McNutt, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. American Scientist.

Jupiter and two of its moons
Jupiter and two of its moons.
ring of jupiter
A false-color image of Jupiter’s ring, discovered by the Voyager probes.
Voyager spacecraft
Profile of Voyager

The main purpose of the probes was to fly by Jupiter and Saturn, which they did in two years. After successfully completing their initial mission, they continued to go deeper into space and send back images of our solar system from afar.

In 1990, Voyager 1 returned the iconic “Pale Blue Dot” image, showing Earth against the huge expanse of space taken 3.7 billion miles from our sun.

Pale blue dot
Pale blue dot

In 1998, Voyager 1 became the furthest man-made object in space, 6.5 billion kilometers from Earth. The probes are now 12 billion and 14.5 billion miles from Earth and counting, according to NASA’s live tracker.

Volcanic activity on the surface of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons.
Neptune's Rings
Neptune’s Rings
Neptune, seen in false color by Voyager 2 in 1989. Here, the red or white coloration means that sunlight is passing through a methane-rich atmosphere.

After 2030, Voyager will likely lose contact with Earth, but both probes carry a 12-inch gold-plated recording that contains information from Earth. This includes 115 images, greetings in 55 different languages, sounds of wind, rain, human heartbeat and 90 minutes of music.

Neptune, seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.
Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, seen by Voyager.
Voyager 2 captured these images, in true color (left) and false color (right) of Neptune in 1986.
Saturn, November 16, 1980.
Neptune in 1989.

In 20,000 years, the probes will pass the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, with this time capsule of human life.

Picture credits: All photos by NASA/JPL.

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