Voyager Space Probes

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Historical Overview of the Voyager Spacecraft

The Voyager Space Probes were originally designed as part of a multi-craft program known as the Grand Tour. The basic goal of The Grand Tour was to send multiple probes to throughout the solar system in a grand spirit of exploration. Despite the large dreams of its NASA designers, the Grand Tours soon became a victim of its own grand price tag. Budget cuts forced NASA to eliminate all but two of the planned Grand Tours spacecraft. Once the dust had cleared, what was left of the Grand Tour found itself reorganized as the Voyager Mission.

Voyager 2 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 20, 1977. Voyager 1 was launched a few weeks later on September 5, 1977. The basic idea of the Voyager mission that a rare alignment of the outer planets occurring in the late 70s and 80s would allow spacecraft to make a broad survey of the solar system in a short amount of time using minimal amount of fuel (see http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/science/planetary.html).

Voyager 1 was launched on a faster trajectory and overtook Voyager 2 while the craft were passing through the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter. In early March 1979, Voyager 1 reached the Jupiter and began taking scans and pictures of the Jovian system. Voyager 2 reached Jupiter four months later and began similar scientific investigations.

Saturn was reached by Voyager 1 on November 12, 1980 and by Voyager 2 on August 25, 1981. After making exhaustive studies of Saturn, it's rings, and it's moons, Voyager began its long trip out of the solar system and into the void of interstellar space.

Five years after its Saturn encounter, Voyager 2 reached Uranus. After taking its normal set of observations, ...

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...t predictions put it within range of the Voyager probes within their operating lifetimes (see http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/interstellar.html). Over forty years after their launch from Earth, the Voyager probes will still be sending data to Earth and refining and redefining the way we think about the Universe.

Works Cited

“NSSDC Photo Gallery: Voyager Index” http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/photo_gallery/photogallery-voyager.html.

“Spacecraft Escaping the Solar System.” http://heavens-above.com/solar-escape.asp.

“The Pioneer Plaque.” The Enterprise Mission. http://www.enterprisemission.com/pioneer.html

“The Voyager Hompage” National Aeronautics and Space Administraion. http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/.

“The Voyager Mission.” http://ringmaster.arc.nasa.gov/voyager/.

“Voyager's Greetings To The Universe.” http://re-lab.net/welcome/

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