Voyager 2 – To The Gas Giants & Beyond
Grand Tour Of The Gas Giants
The Voyager 2 space probe was one of two probes launched as part of the Voyager Program in 1977 tasked with exploring the gas giants in the outer solar system. Voyager completed a gravitationally assisted ‘Grand Tour’ of all four gas giants which is only possible every 175 years. After its flyby of Neptune, the probe continued towards interstellar space with a speed of 15 km/s!
Fast Summary Facts About Voyager 2!
- Type: Flyby & Deep Space Explorer
- Destination: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune
- Status: Operational until 2025!
- Launch Weight: 826 kgs (1820 lbs)
- Launch Location: Cape Canaveral, Florida
- Launch Date: August 20th 1977
- Flyby Of Neptune: August 25th 1989
Interesting Fun Facts About The Voyager 2 Mission!
- Voyager 2 was one of two spacecraft made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as part of the Voyager Program to explore the outer gas giant planets.
- Voyager 1’s objective was to flyby Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their moons all at once as part of the so-called ‘Grand Tour’ which is only possible every 175 years!
- To this day Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited the ice giants – Uranus and Neptune!
- To probe communicates with Earth via radio waves which are received and sent via NASA’s Deep Space Network stations.
- Despite launching aboard a Titan III rocket 16 days before the Voyager 1 spacecraft it reached Jupiter and Saturn second as it followed a longer trajectory!
- Following the spacecraft's flyby of Saturn, it became the fourth man-made spacecraft to achieve escape velocity; allowing it to leave the solar system forever!
- Voyager 2 is currently over 18 billion kilometres from Earth, making it the second most distant man-made object after Voyager 1!
- Check out this cool NASA / JPL web page of the current mission status and statistics of both Voyager probes!
- It is expected that sometime after 2025, the power source for Voyager 2's instruments and a radio transmitter (the nuclear-powered generator) will be depleted to a point it will no longer be able to communicate with scientists on Earth.
- The Voyager 2 spacecraft is expected to reach the Oort cloud in about 350 years. In about 40,000 years the probe will pass by the star Ross 248 and in 300,00 years the star Sirius.
- The Voyager probes will complete an orbit of the Milky Way Galaxy every 225 million years for billions of years into the future.
- Both Voyager spacecraft carry a gold-plated audio-visual disc, should the space probe ever be found by intelligent life in the future. The disc carries photos of Earth, its life forms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings and common sounds.