Voyager I, 30 years later

You may have noticed the number of articles about the Voyager missions (NASA/JPL): that’s because today, it’s exactly 30 years ago that the first Voyager was launched and to celebrate that, Wired posted an excellent photo-gallery about the two probes.

I’ve mentioned the program many times here (noticed the coincidence in the dates of the posts): there’s some personal attachment (so to say) to the Voyager project that goes beyond the probe’s appearance in a particular Star Trek movie. As teenagers, we used to collect everything the JPL published in science papers and magazines. One remarkable achievement of the program was the discovery of the special alignment of planets during the late 70s, which allowed the JPL team to have both probes heavily use a planet’s gravity to literally slingshot them further and further in space. The special alignment of planets and the path these probes were following was called ‘The Grand Tour’: the idea set off the longest known and most successful unmanned mission too, which (“officially”) ended in 1989 when Voyager 2 made pictures of the planet Neptune.

Both probes are still sending data back to JPL as both of them have entered interstellar space. One can only imagine what would happen if somebody actually found these probes and think we are still using turntables to listen to music and sound (both probes carry a gramophone with Eartly sounds and music). If you were part of the scientific team that brought us the probes: congratulations on a job well done.

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