Breakdown: Why this NASA ship has been in space for 43 years

Breakdown: Why this NASA spacecraft has been in space for 43 years

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts were launched in 1977 and continue to transmit data back to Earth in 2020.

In 1979, Voyager 1 discovered the first active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Lo and found out that the Great Red Spot is actually a huge cyclonic storm. This mission also discovered lightning on Jupiter, which was the first time for a world other than Earth. The next year in 1980, Voyager 1 flew by Saturn and discovered 3 of Saturn’s moons.

Initially, Voyager 1 and 2 were set to make close passes by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune before NASA turned its camera off in 1989.

Voyager 1 took one last picture, titled the Solar System Family Portrait, before turning off camera in 1990. By turning off the camera, NASA is still able to receive important data about solar wind and interstellar space from the Voyagers.

In 1998, Voyager 1 became the farthest man-made object from Earth in space. Then in 2012, it became the first spacecraft to move into interstellar space and detect intensity of cosmic rays plus the measurements of the interstellar magnetic field. Voyager 2 entered interstellar space in 2018.

Although Voyager 2 is still technically running, NASA is unable to receive updates due to a critical radio antenna update on Earth. However, Voyager is still able to transmit data, such as cosmic ray data.

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