NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is the most distant human-made object in the universe.
Its twin, Voyager 2, has traveled to more planets than any other in history.
The spacecraft twins, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were launched by NASA during the summer of 1977 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Barring any fatal equipment failures, the Voyager twins are likely to survive and relay data from beyond the outer planets for many decades into the 21st century.
Today, in a dark, cold, vacant neighborhood at the very edge of our Solar System, NASA’s Voyager 1 deep space probe holds the record as the Earth explorer that has traveled farthest from home.
June 28, 2010 – Voyager 2
NASA’s plucky Voyager 2 spacecraft has hit a long-haul operations milestone today (June 28) — operating continuously for 12,000 days. For nearly 33 years, the venerable spacecraft has been returning data about the giant outer planets, and the characteristics and interaction of solar wind between and beyond the planets. Among its many findings, Voyager 2 discovered Neptune’s Great Dark Spot and its 450-meter-per-second (1,000-mph) winds.
The two Voyager spacecraft have been the longest continuously operating spacecraft in deep space. Voyager 2 launched on August 20, 1977, when Jimmy Carter was president. Voyager 1 launched about two weeks later on Sept. 5. The two spacecraft are the most distant human-made objects, out at the edge of the heliosphere — the bubble the sun creates around the solar system. Mission managers expect Voyager 1 to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space in the next five years or so, with Voyager 2 on track to enter interstellar space shortly after that.
Having traveled more than 21 billion kilometers (13 billion miles) on its winding path through the planets toward interstellar space, the spacecraft is now nearly 14 billion kilometers (9 billion miles) from the sun. A signal from the ground, traveling at the speed of light, takes about 12.8 hours one-way to reach Voyager 2.
Voyager 1 reached this 12,000-day milestone on July 13, 2010 after traveling more than 22 billion kilometers (14 billion miles). Voyager 1 is currently more than 17 billion kilometers (11 billion miles) from the sun.
The Voyagers were built by JPL, which continues to operate both spacecraft. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
Summary of the satellites crossed Solar System:
The current status of Voyager 1 (as well as Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11 and New Horizons) is available online at Spacecraft Escaping the Solar System.
As of July 27, 2010 , Voyager 1 was about 113.478 AU (16.976 billion km, or 10.549 billion miles) or 0.002 of a light-year from the Sun. Voyager 1′s current relative velocity is 17.07 km/s, or 61,452 kilometres per hour (38,185 mph). This calculates as 3.6 AU per year, about 10% faster than Voyager 2.
NASA extrapolated the location and heliocentric coordinates of both Voyager space probes up to 2015.On November 19, 2015, Voyager 1 will be approximately 133.15 Astronomical Units from the Sun.
As of August 2010, Voyager 2 is 93 AU from the Sun, at −55.32° declination and 19.785 h right ascension, placing it in the constellation Telescopium as observed from Earth.