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July 15, 2010

To infinity and beyond

After 12,000 Days in Space, Voyager 1 Heads for the Solar System Boundary

Next time you're marveling at the fact that Spirit and Opportunity have been roving Mars for over six years now, ponder this: the two Voyager spacecraft have been hurtling through our solar system for nearly 33 years. Today, Voyager 1 hits a mission milestone of operating continuously for 12,000 days. The spacecraft launched on September 5, 1977, while Jimmy Carter was president, and has now traveled 14 billion miles.

Voyager 1 made its closest approach to Jupiter in March 1979, coming to within about 217,000 miles of the planet's center and making detailed observations of Jupiter's moons. During its flyby of Saturn in November 1980, the spacecraft's cameras and remote sensing instruments revealed stunning images and information about Saturn's rings and atmosphere, as well as its giant moon Titan. In early 1990, Voyager 1 captured the now-famous image known as "Pale Blue Dot." As the spacecraft was on its way out of the solar system, astronomer Carl Sagan commanded it to turn its camera and take a picture of planet Earth dangling in the vastness of space.

Posted by joke du jour at July 15, 2010 09:03 PM

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