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The Little Voyager That Could

Voyager 2 bounces back from glitch in interstellar space |  “Mission operators report that Voyager 2 continues to be stable and that communications between Earth and the spacecraft are good,” agency officials wrote in a mission update yesterday.

“The spacecraft has resumed taking science data, and the science teams are now evaluating the health of the instruments following their brief shut-off.”

Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, launched a few weeks apart in 1977 to perform an unprecedented “grand tour” of the outer solar system. Both spacecraft conducted flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, revealing a great deal about the solar system’s two biggest planets. Voyager 2 then zoomed past Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989; the probe remains the only craft to have gotten up-close looks at either of these “ice giants.”

And both Voyagers just kept on flying, entering extended interstellar missions. Voyager 1 popped free into interstellar space in August 2012, and its twin followed suit six years later.

These two Voyagers will outlast us, our silly and desperate politics, our children and our children’s children down the ages, our nation, our species, our planet and still be going strong and only beginning…

The waterless waves on that sea without ships
Go outward, roll onward in search of horizons.
The faces in stone keep their futile appointments
With wind and with water, which also have schedules,
That return them to silence in a melding of stars
Here where the tree’s roots drink from the stream,
Here on the banks of tomorrow as the mind’s searching message,
Laden with numbers, with dates, and with data,
Rises up and flies out past the sun to the birth of the stars.

– – The Sentinels

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Stargazer February 8, 2020, 1:31 PM

    I worked on the Voyager mission from concept through Saturn encounter, specifically on the IRIS instrument and associated ground processing software. (IRIS uses the gold parabolic antenna seen in the picture.) Very challenging and professionally rewarding.

  • Nori February 8, 2020, 8:22 PM

    “A telegram with no fixed address
    Woven out of frozen starlight,
    And then to the darkness delivered.”

    Thank you,Stargazer,for your hard work and spectacular success on Voyager.
    The man in the WH now appreciates your great vision. Space will be funded again.