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Voyagers 1 & 2

Voyager Quick Facts

 

 
Voyager Project: This full-size Voyager model is on display in the von Kármán Visitors' Center at JPL. View a detailed drawing.

These visitors get an up-close look at the Voyager model before watching the "Welcome to Outer Space" video about JPL missions. View more pictures.

 

VOYAGER: QUICK FACTS

Primary Mission: Completed 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.

Extended Mission: to 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 more below.

Voyager 1 Launch: September 5, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Titan-Centaur expendable rocket.

Voyager 2 Launch: August 20, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Titan-Centaur expendable rocket. (It was launched before Voyager 1).

Mission Home Page: Voyager Project Home Page

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VOYAGER INTERSTELLAR MISSION

Heliopause: Voyagers 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

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