Voyager Project: This full-size Voyager
model is on display in the von Kármán Visitors' Center
at JPL. View
a detailed drawing.
visitors get an up-close look at the Voyager model before watching
the "Welcome to Outer Space" video about JPL missions.
in 1989. Voyager 1's primary mission was to make a close flyby of
Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2's primary mission was to make a close
flyby of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
explore the Solar System beyond the outer planets to the outer limits
of the Sun's sphere of influence, and possibly beyond. It is called
the Voyager Interstellar Mission Read
1 Launch: September
5, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard
a Titan-Centaur expendable rocket.
2 Launch: August
20, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Titan-Centaur expendable
rocket. (It was launched before Voyager 1).
Home Page: Voyager
Project Home Page
1 and 2 are headed towards the outer boundary of the solar system
in search of the heliopause.
The heliopause is the region
where the Sun's influence begins to decrease and the interstellar
space begins. It is believed to exist somewhere from 5 to 14 billion
miles from the Sun. It has never been reached by any spacecraft,
and the Voyagers may be the first to pass through this region.
Termination Shock: Within
the next 10 years, Voyagers 1 and 2 should cross an area known as
the termination shock. This is where the million-mile-per-hour solar
winds slows to about 250,000 miles per hour. The termination shock
is the first indication that the wind is nearing the heliopause.
This is what is meant by "Helio
Term Shock" on JPL's Mission
Board for Voyagers 1 and 2's next encounter.
The Voyagers should cross the
heliopause 10 to 20 years after reaching the termination shock.
The Voyagers have enough electrical
power and thruster fuel to operate at least until 2020. By that
time, Voyager 1 will be 12.4 billion miles from the Sun and Voyager
2 will be 10.5 billion miles away.
Eventually, the Voyagers will
pass other stars.
In about 40,000 years, Voyager
1 will drift within 1.6 light years (9.3 trillion miles) of AC+79
3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis.
In some 296,000 years, Voyager
2 will pass Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, at a distance
of about 4.3 light years (25 trillion miles).
View a diagram
of the interstellar mission