June 2010

Voyager 2: Talking Back

Voyager 2 was launched

by NASA and JPL in 1977. Its mission then was to study Saturn, and to engage flybys of the outer gas planets (Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune) along the way. The planets were aligned in a fashion that only happens in a 176 year cycle. Voyager 2 accomplished its mission flawlessly, sending back data and thousands of images. It then continued merrily on its way, headed out past the solar system, going where, well, no one we know has ever been before.

Now, 33 years later, Voyager 2 is still headed out, about to leave the solar system. It's about 8.6 billion miles away now, and passing through the heliosphere, the magnetic bubble generated by the sun that surrounds our solar system. But in May, Voyager 2 inexplicably stopped talking.