Voyager 1-Envoy to the Stars
What a long, strange trip it’s been. On Sept. 5,1977, the unmanned probe Voyager 1 hitched a ride into space aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Its mission: to explore the remote gas planets Jupiter and Saturn. While there, it was to survey the two worlds’ moons and Saturn’s beautiful, mysterious rings.
Powered with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) heart designed and built by GE, the little probe arrived at Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980. The RTG converts heat produced by the plutonium’s radioactive decay into electricity to provide power to voyager’s instruments, computers, radio and other systems.
NASA expected the spacecraft to continue operating for ﬁve years and travel 10 astronomical units. It has now been sending data about its environment continuously for more than 36 years, traveling about 126 astronomical units in that time.
On Sept. 12, 2013, experts declared that Voyager 1 had officially left the neighborhood, crossing out of the solar system into interstellar space. It is the farthest any man-made object has ever traveled. Throughout its journey, it has solved mysteries about our universe and expanded human knowledge. The little spacecraft has transcended the sum of its wires and circuits to become legend.