NASA has played a very important role in the space development of our civilization. NASA came into existence on Oct 1, 1958, created in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957. National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA is a U.S. federal government independent agency responsible not only for civilian space programs, as well for aeronautics and space research.
STARTING THE JOURNEY
Earlier in the ages, it was believed that Earth is the center of our universe. The world, sky, stars, sun, moon, and all other space events are just some things traveling around the Earth. People were taught that everything in the sky is some light revolving around the Earth. It was merely four centuries ago when the cosmic perspective was (and still) relatively new. But, during the New year of the 1600s, there was someone in the prison for questioning our universe beliefs. Giordano Bruno, the man who dared to question the universal belief that Earth might not be the center and the universe we live in, is not just what we can see. As time passed, space science strengthened, and they discovered many new and amazing facts.
There was a theory that if we point an arrow in the open air and release the arrow there are two outcomes; either the arrow will keep in the future or will hit some wall. In case two, the archer then jumps over the wall and repeats the process. The conclusion of both cases focuses on the point that the universe has no edge or end.
Till the last 100 years, we believed that the Milky Way galaxy is the entire universe but, on the contrary with the help of the latest technology we have many new theories. Scientists now believe in an ever-expanding universe and to study the interstellar space NASA launched 2 spacecraft on a one-way journey.
VOYAGER MISSION OBJECTIVE
The primary aim of the Voyager Interstellar Mission is to extend NASA’s eyes and ears in space. In technical words, by launching the Voyager Interstellar Mission, NASA sought to expand the scientific exploration of the solar system beyond the neighborhood of the outer planets to the farther reaches of the Sun’s influence, and maybe beyond.
The Voyager space-craft also carries a phonograph recorded in a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk. It is called THE GOLDEN DISK. The Golden Disk contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.
LAUNCH OF VOYAGER MISSION
Voyager 2 was launched before Voyager on Aug 20, 1977, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Voyager 1 was launched on 5th September 1977. People do still ask questions about why Voyager 2 was launched before Voyager 1. This is because of the different trajectories of the two crafts. Voyager 2 was launched before because of the preferable planetary conditions. Also, Voyager 1 had a shorter journey, but would still overtake Voyager 2 as per NASA’s plan.
DISCOVERIES OF BOTH THE CRAFTS
Within just a couple of months of its journey, Voyager 1 started sharing images. One of which shows the crescent-shaped moon and earth on 18th Sep 1977. Because of the direct path that voyager 1 was set on, it only took approximately 1 and half years to get to the 1st and the largest gas planet of our solar system.
In Jan 1979 voyager 1 started taking photographs of Jupiter during its approach and captured almost 1900 images during the flyby. One of many surprises by Voyager-1 at Jupiter was the discovery that Jupiter’s moon “lo” appeared to be geologically active. Voyager 1 helped us understand Jupiter like never. This time scientists have clear images of Jupiter in action. From the 1900 images sent by Voyager it also made a short video to analyze and study Jupiter.
After Studying Jupiter for around 20 months Voyager-1 headed towards Saturn and became the 2nd spacecraft to visit the ring planet. NASA then studies Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. After Saturn, the spacecraft had to change its trajectory and hence could not explore Uranus and Neptune. Using Saturn’s gravity as a slingshot, Voyager-1 increased its speed to exit the solar system.
Voyager-2 was the first human-made object that flew past our outer planet, Uranus. While its journey towards Voyager-2 did some mind-blowing analysis and work but Voyager’s work on Uranus and Neptune had some major impact on scientific belief. At Uranus, Voyager-2 discovered 10 new moons and two new rings. As the Voyager-2 flew past Neptune, it discovered five moons, four rings, and a “Great Dark Spot”. The Great Dark Spot is a huge spinning storm on Neptune.
This spot is in the southern atmosphere of Neptune, which was about the size of the entire Earth.
The Voyager-1 took some of its last photos of earth from four billion miles in the year 1990 famous as a pale blue dot. After that, the probe’s camera had to shut down to save power.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
As of February 2018, Voyager-1 is roughly 141 Astronomical Unites or A.U. (sun-earth distance) from Earth. Calculating that in a normal matric system gives us 13.2 billion miles or 21.2 billion km. Although relative to our universe, not that far; it is the most distant any human-made probe has ever traveled.
Both the probes are still functioning and will continue to work till they get enough power sources. Space probes are charged through solar. As the Voyager goes far into the interstellar finally at some point, the sun won’t be enough to keep the power-up.
VOYAGER LATEST DATA
The team working on Voyager did not know that even after over four decades, the probe would still send critical data. Since now the Voyagers have crossed the solar boundaries, the discoveries and data have all the focus. Because of the distance, each space probe has reached the data takes time to reach earth. It takes over 20 hours for the data by Voyager-1 to reach Earth. It gives a mixed feeling to imagine that one morning the team of scientists working on the space probe will look for the signal and they won’t hear it anymore.
Over 43 years into space, the recent data by Voyager is something never discovered by anything. The Voyager-1 space probe has detected a strange cosmic hum in interstellar space. This faint monotone hum has been found at a distance of over 20 billion km from the Earth. This hum is at a low frequency of 3kHz.
WHEN DOES THE MISSION END?
The Voyager space probes have already crossed the expectations of the team. After crossing the Kuiper belt the scientists are left with the destiny of how long the program could go. According to the study, it is estimated that in the year 2025 we can expect the mission to close. The space probe after 2025 will still go into the dark space with the golden disk but unfortunately won’t share any data back to earth.