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Voyager 2

NASA "grand tour" planetary probe / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Voyager 2 is a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977, to study the outer planets and interstellar space beyond the Sun's heliosphere. As a part of the Voyager program, it was launched 16 days before its twin, Voyager 1, on a trajectory that took longer to reach gas giants Jupiter and Saturn but enabled further encounters with ice giants Uranus and Neptune.[5] Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to have visited either of the ice giant planets. Voyager 2 was the third of five spacecraft to achieve Solar escape velocity, which allowed it to leave the Solar System.

Quick facts: Mission type, Operator, COSPAR ID, SATCAT no....
Voyager 2
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 typePlanetary exploration
OperatorNASA / JPL[1]
COSPAR ID1977-076A[2]
SATCAT no.10271[3]
Mission duration
  • 45 years, 9 months, 14 days elapsed
  • Planetary mission: 12 years, 1 month, 12 days
  • Interstellar mission: 33 years, 8 months, 1 day elapsed
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerJet Propulsion Laboratory
Launch mass721.9 kilograms (1,592 lb)[4]
Power470 watts (at launch)
Start of mission
Launch dateAugust 20, 1977, 14:29:00 (1977-08-20UTC14:29Z) UTC
RocketTitan IIIE
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-41
Flyby of Jupiter
Closest approachJuly 9, 1979
Distance570,000 kilometers (350,000 mi)
Flyby of Saturn
Closest approachAugust 26, 1981
Distance101,000 km (63,000 mi)
Flyby of Uranus
Closest approachJanuary 24, 1986
Distance81,500 km (50,600 mi)
Flyby of Neptune
Closest approachAugust 25, 1989
Distance4,951 km (3,076 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.

Voyager 2 successfully fulfilled its primary mission of visiting the Jovian system in 1979, the Saturnian system in 1981, Uranian system in 1986, and the Neptunian system in 1989. The spacecraft is now in its extended mission of studying interstellar space. It has been operating for 45 years, 9 months and 14 days as of June 3, 2023 UTC [refresh]; as of May 17, 2023, it has reached a distance of 132.93 AU (19.886 billion km; 12.357 billion mi) from Earth.[6]

The probe entered interstellar space on November 5, 2018, at a distance of 122 AU (11.3 billion mi; 18.3 billion km) (about 16:58 light-hours)[7] from the Sun[8] and moving at a velocity of 15.341 km/s (34,320 mph)[9] relative to the Sun. Voyager 2 has left the Sun's heliosphere and is traveling through the interstellar medium, a region of outer space beyond the influence of the Solar System, joining Voyager 1, which had reached the interstellar medium in 2012.[10][11][12][13] Voyager 2 has begun to provide the first direct measurements of the density and temperature of the interstellar plasma.[14]

Voyager 2 remains in contact with Earth through the NASA Deep Space Network.[15] In 2020, maintenance to the Deep Space Network cut outbound contact with the probe for eight months. Contact was reestablished on November 2, 2020, when a series of instructions was transmitted, subsequently executed, and relayed back with a successful communication message.[16] On February 12, 2021, full communications with the probe were restored after a major antenna upgrade that took a year to complete. The DSS 43 communication antenna, which is solely responsible for communications with the probe, is located near Canberra, Australia.[17]