In August of 1997, astronomers as NASA launched a journey to reach further into the depths of our solar system. Voyager 2, followed closely its sister probe, Voyager 1, was one of the first attempts to study our solar system’s outer planets and possibly to see what exactly lies beyond the Sun’s reach. So, what exactly has Voyager 2 shown us here on Earth since it was launched 42 years, 6 months, 24 days, 12 hours and 8 minutes ago?
Equipped with 11 scientific instruments whose only use is astronomical observations, this spacecraft remains the sole of its kind to explore all four of the giant outer planets at close range. However, its feats go well beyond this. Voyager 2 discovered Saturn’s 14th moon, 10 new Uranus moons and 5 new moons orbiting Neptune as well. Voyager 2 also discovered 2 rings around Uranus and 4 new rings around Neptune, while also bringing to light a “Great Dark Spot” on Neptune. Voyager 2 also marked the first human object fly-by of Uranus and Neptune ever achieved.
Although Voyager 2 has completed the mission it was originally created for, scientist still hope that it will remain useful for the next few years to come. Without the trajectory correction maneuver thrusters being fired up, Voyager 2 will use these to continue on its path, hopefully passing only 1.7 light-years from the star Ross 248, and, if undisturbed, passing 4.3 light years from Sirus in 296,000 years.
“In Depth.” NASA, NASA, solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/voyager-2/in-depth/.
“Voyager 2.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Mar. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_2.