NASA celebrates 40th anniversary of Voyager probes

Cassini mission chief scientist Linda Spilker worked on the Voyagers' Infrared Spectrometer and Radiometer in her first position after graduating from college.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Sep 06, 2017
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voyager probes, which launched in 1977 to explore the solar system's gas giant planets, NASA has made a series of commemorative posters about the missions available to the public for download and compiled writings by team members describing "their most memorable Voyager moment."

Voyager 2, which conducted a grand tour of the solar system, flying by gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, actually launched first, on August 20, 1977.

Two weeks later, Voyager 1, which explored Jupiter and Saturn and is now traveling faster than its companion, launched on September 5.

While the Pioneer missions had taken the first close-up images of Jupiter and Saturn, the Voyagers provided more detailed images and data and also presented the first ever close-up photos of Uranus and Neptune.

Both probes are still active and transmitting data back to Earth from a distance of more than 10 billion miles. Voyager 1 left the solar system and entered interstellar space in 2013 while Voyager 2 is traversing the boundary between the two.

Available to the public for free, the commemorative posters, designed by visual strategists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) depict a starry night sky, honor the "grand tour" of the planets, and promote the mission in 1970s-style print.

In anticipation of the milestone, NASA solicited statements about the mission from scientists, engineers, and others on the mission teams.

Voyager project scientist Ed Stone, who has been with the mission all 40 years, cited the discovery of volcanic eruptions on Jupiter's moon Io as one of the missions' most significant discoveries.

He also noted that the discoveries of rings around all four gas giants, along with magnetic fields and additional moons, have transformed our understanding of the solar system.

Cassini mission chief scientist Linda Spilker worked on the Voyagers' Infrared Spectrometer and Radiometer in her first position after graduating from college.

Both the posters and the writings are highlighted on JPL's website.

NASA also celebrated the occasion by transmitting a tweet to Voyager 1 using a 70-meter antenna near Madrid.

Chosen from a collection of tweets written using the hashtag #MessageToVoyager, the message selected, which will take 19 hours to reach the probe, was a tweet by Oliver Jenkins under the handle @Asperger_Nerd reading, "We offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone."

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