Voyager 2 mission – second Spacecraft in Interstellar Space
Voyager 2 is a spacecraft launched by NASA on 20 aug 1977, to study the outer planets of our solar system. In the Voyager program, it was launched 16 days before its twin spaceprobe Voyager 1. In the Voyager mission, Voyager 1 was planned to focus on Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 was planned to took close-up pictures of both Jupiter , Saturn as well as Uranus and Neptune. In fact in 20th century Voyager 2 was only human made object to reach the last two planet of our solar system i.e. Uranus and Neptune. Main objective of Voyager 2 was to flyby Jupiter, Saturn ,Uranus, Neptune (**Flyby means clossest approach of a spacecraft to a planet or moon for observation).
Here is Information about Voyager 2 Mission
|Objective||Flyby Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune|
|Mass of Spaceprobe||721.9 kilograms|
|Mission Cost||89.5 crores US Dollar|
|Launch Date||Aug. 20, 1977|
|Mission Operator||NASA , Jet Propulsion Laboratory|
|Launch Site||Cape Canaveral|
|Scientific Instruments installed in Voyager 2||1. Imaging Science System
2. Ultraviolet Spectrometer
3. Infrared Interferometer Spctrometer
4. Planetary Radio Astronomy Experiment
6. Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer
7. Plasma Spectrometer
8. Low-Energy Charged Particles Experiment
9. Plasma Waves Experiment
10. Cosmic Ray Telescope
11. Radio Science System
Flyby to Jupiter
Voyager 2 reached closest to Jupiter on July 9, 1979 with the distance of 645,000 kilometers (400,785 miles). In this flyby Voyager 2 collected new data about the cloud of Jupiter. It also discovered 4 new moons and ring system of Jupiter and took approx 17,000 new pictures. Voyager 2 deeply detected the change in atmosphere of Jupiter. It found a drift in the Great Red Spot of planet as well as changes in its shape and color.
Voyager 2 captured images of Jupiter and its moon Amalthea, Io, Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. During this period spacecraft confirmed active volcano on the moon Io. It also revealed the changes on the surface of the moon in the time duration between previous visit. Voyager 2 found 2 small satellites Adrastea and Metis orbiting otside the ring of jupiter.
Flyby to Saturn
Voyager 2 came closest to ring planet Saturn at 26 Aug 1981 with the distance of 101,000 kilometers from Saturn surface. During this flyby Voyager took pictures of Saturn and its moons. The spaceprobe provided more detailed images of the ring “spokes” and kinks of the Saturn, and also the F-ring and its shepherding moons.
Voyager 2 passed through the plane of ring of Saturn at a speed of 8 miles per second. During this flyby the data of Voyager suggested that the ring-A of Saturn was perhaps only about 300 meters thick. During the encounter, spacecraft also captured the moons Hyperion (the “hamburger moon”), Enceladus, Tethys, and Phoebe as well as recently discovered Helene, Telesto and Calypso. After fulfilling its primary mission of two planets, Voyager 2 started its next journey towards Uranus
Flyby to Uranus
Voyager 2 became first human made object to flyby Uranus planet. Closest encounter to Uranus took place at 24 Jan 1986, at a distance of about 50,640 miles (81,500 kilometers). During its encounter to Uranus, Spacecraft discovered 10 new moons i.e Puck, Portia, Juliet, Cressida, Rosalind, Belinda, Desdemona, Cordelia, Ophelia, and Bianca and two two new rings. Spacecraft also found magnetic field which was inclined at 55 degrees off-axis and off-center.
Also Read : 17 year old discovers a new planet
During the flyby, Voyager 2 found wind speeds in the atmosphere of Uranus at approx 450 miles per hour (724 kilometers per hour). Spacecraft also found evidence of a boiling ocean of water at 497 miles (800 kilometers) below the top cloud surface of Uranus.It also found that the ring of planet was extremely variable in thickness.
Flyby to Neptune
Voyager 2 came closest to Neptune on 25 aug 1989 when it flew about 2,980 miles (4,800 kilometers) over the cloud of the giant planet Neptue. It was most closest in all 4 planets flyby of the mission. During the flyby, Voyager 2 discovered six new moons Proteus, Larissa, Despina, Galatea, Thalassa, and Naiad and four new rings.
Voyager 2 captured two-thirds part of Neptune’s largest moon Triton, which is coldest known planetary body in the solar system. It also found a nitrogen ice volcano on its surface. The atmosphere of Neptune was found to be more active because of Wind at speed of 680-mile (1100-kilometer) per hour. Voyager 2 became first man made object in the history to reach Neptune. Till the Neptune flyby all instrument of Voyager were in working condition.
Towards Interstaller Space
After the flyby of Neptune , NASA formally renamed the project the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM). In November 1998 nonessential instruments were permanently turned off to save the power for further mission , where 7 instrument were still operating. On 30 Aug 2007, Voyager 2 crossed the termination shock and then entered the heliosheath. On 7 November 2012, Voyager 2 reached 100 AU (1 AU = 149,598,000 km) from the sun, and became third human-made object to reach 100 AU. According to NASA Voyager 2 had entered interstellar space in December 2018. After entering Interstaller space Voyager 2 mission it became the second spacecraft to do so after its twin Voyager 1.
After 2025 or slightly afterwards the instrument of Voyager 2 will no longer work because of lack of power.
Both Voyager 1 &2 carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc. Its a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. It contains the spoken greetings, 90-minute of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan and his associates. Disc contains 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. Each record is layered by a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. It has set of instructions in symbolic language which explain the origin of the spacecraft. It indicate how the record is to be played. The images of disc are encoded in analog form.
Some key facts about Voyager 2
- Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to flyby all four gaint planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
- Voyager 2 was the first human-made object to flyby Uranus and Neptune.
- Voyager 2 discovered 14th moon of Jupiter.
- Voyager 2 discovered 10 new moons and two new rings at Uranus.
- Voyager 2 discovered five moons, four rings, and a Great Dark Spot of Neptune.