The 5 Most Amazing Facts About the Voyager 1 Spacecraft

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Since its launch on September 5th, 1977, the Voyager 1 space probe has been hurtling through space, a distant earthly ambassador visiting the farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond. Stowed aboard the 1,500 pound spacecraft is gear to record imagery and to test multiple types of light and radio waves, to study magnetic/gravity fields and to generally learn as much as possible before the predicted end of the Voyager mission after the probe’s generators finally give out. That will likely come sometime in 2025, at which time the spacecraft will be more than 48 years into its historic journey.

5 Voyager 1’s Primary Mission Ended More Than 30 Years Ago

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The primary mission of our planet’s pluckiest space probe was to visit Jupiter and then Saturn, sending back images and data from these distant giants never before attainable to science. Voyager reached Jupiter in early 1979 and orbited the planet for several months, capturing captivating images of its gaseous surface and of its myriad moons. Then it was on to Saturn! Voyager reached Saturn in late 1980, lingering near the ringed planet briefly and sending back pictures of Saturn, its famous rings and its moons. Every accomplishment after that has been icing on the discovery cake.

4 Voyager 1 Carries an Earthly Greeting Card

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Aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft is a golden record carrying sights and sounds of life here on our home planet. In the (extremely) unlikely event that an intelligent life form finds Voyager and its golden disc (and also has the wherewithal to play a record and interpret images in the same way we do), they will be treated to greetings in various languages, the sounds of some of our planet’s animals and music ranging from Mozart to Chuck Berry.

3 Voyager 2 Actually Launched First

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As luck and logistics had it, the Voyager 2 space probe actually launched a week and a half before her “twin” spacecraft, Voyager 1! That means that, although Voyager 1 has travelled more physical distance, at 36 years and 29 days into its mission, Voyager 2 holds the title for the longest ever space mission to date—a record it will hold onto for the foreseeable future, as there is only one current competitor…

2 Voyager 1 Is On the Longest Voyage of All Time

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At the time of this writing, the Voyager 1 space is more than 125 AU from the sun, the center of our solar system. That distance is so large, it is difficult to gain perspective, but let’s try: an AU, or Astronomical Unit, is 92,055,807.3 miles. Earth is usually about one AU from the sun, thus the specificity of the measurement. And this little guy has travelled 125 of them, also known as 11,506,975,875 miles. Yep, that’s 11.5 BILLION miles.

1 Voyager 1 Has Left the Solar System

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For those of you not up to speed on your planetary distances, Pluto, the newly rebranded dwarf planet, is usually an average of 5.9 billion miles from the sun. Voyager 1 is almost twice that distance away now. And that puts it well beyond the solar system, and in fact beyond the Heliosphere, meaning Voyager 1 is no longer under the influence of our sun. It is, therefore, the first manmade object to enter interstellar space.