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Voyager 1

NASA space probe launched in 1977 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Voyager 1 is a space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, as part of the Voyager program to study the outer Solar System and interstellar space beyond the Sun's heliosphere. Launched 16 days after its twin Voyager 2, Voyager 1 has been operating for 45 years, 9 months and 3 days as of June 8, 2023 UTC [refresh]. It communicates through NASA's Deep Space Network to receive routine commands and to transmit data to Earth. Real-time distance and velocity data is provided by NASA and JPL.[5] At a distance of 159.32 AU (23.834 billion km; 14.810 billion mi) from Earth as of June 5, 2023,[5] it is the most distant human-made object from Earth.[6]

Quick facts: Mission type, Operator, COSPAR ID, SATCAT no....
Voyager 1
Model of the Voyager spacecraft, a small-bodied spacecraft with a large, central dish and many arms and antennas extending from it
Model of the Voyager spacecraft design
Mission typeOuter planetary, heliosphere, and interstellar medium exploration
OperatorNASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory
COSPAR ID1977-084A[1]
SATCAT no.10321[2]
Mission duration
  • 45 years, 9 months, 3 days elapsed
  • Planetary mission: 3 years, 3 months, 9 days
  • Interstellar mission: 42 years, 5 months, 25 days elapsed
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeMariner Jupiter-Saturn
ManufacturerJet Propulsion Laboratory
Launch mass815 kg (1,797 lb)[3]
Dry mass721.9 kg (1,592 lb)[4]
Power470 watts (at launch)
Start of mission
Launch dateSeptember 5, 1977, 12:56:00 (1977-09-05UTC12:56Z) UTC
RocketTitan IIIE
Launch siteCape Canaveral Launch Complex 41
End of mission
Last contactTBD
Flyby of Jupiter
Closest approachMarch 5, 1979
Distance349,000 km (217,000 mi)
Flyby of Saturn
Closest approachNovember 12, 1980
Distance124,000 km (77,000 mi)
Flyby of Titan (atmosphere study)
Closest approachNovember 12, 1980
Distance6,490 km (4,030 mi)
Heliocentric positions of the five interstellar probes (squares) and other bodies (circles) until 2020, with launch and flyby dates. Markers denote positions on 1 January of each year, with every fifth year labelled.
Plot 1 is viewed from the north ecliptic pole, to scale.
Plots 2 to 4 are third-angle projections at 20% scale.
In the SVG file, hover over a trajectory or orbit to highlight it and its associated launches and flybys.

The probe made flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn's largest moon, Titan. NASA had a choice of either doing a Pluto or Titan flyby; exploration of the moon took priority because it was known to have a substantial atmosphere.[7][8][9] Voyager 1 studied the weather, magnetic fields, and rings of the two gas giants and was the first probe to provide detailed images of their moons.

As part of the Voyager program and like its sister craft Voyager 2, the spacecraft's extended mission is to locate and study the regions and boundaries of the outer heliosphere and to begin exploring the interstellar medium. Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space on August 25, 2012, making it the first spacecraft to do so.[10][11] Two years later, Voyager 1 began experiencing a third "tsunami wave" of coronal mass ejections from the Sun that continued to at least December 15, 2014, further confirming that the probe is indeed in interstellar space.[12]

In a further testament to the robustness of Voyager 1, the Voyager team tested the spacecraft's trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters in late 2017 (the first time these thrusters had been fired since 1980), a project enabling the mission to be extended by two to three years.[13] Voyager 1's extended mission is expected to continue until about 2025, when its radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) will no longer supply enough electric power to operate its scientific instruments.[14]