Voyager 1: The Farthest Milestone of Human History

Voyager 1 Spacecraft
Voyager 1: Farthest Space Probe. (Source: NASA)

There are lot space flight and mission till today. Many space probes are wondering in the space in the search of different scientific discoveries but then one important question arises in mind “ Which is the farthest space probe till today?”

The answer lies in the very far lying machine which is travelling at a tremendous speed of human history away from us called Voyager 1.

Voyager 1 is the farthest space probe at the present time, it was found at the distance of 123 AU (1.840×1010 Km) on November 2012. It is very close to entering into the interstellar space leaving our solar system.

Gold Plated Audio Visual Disc kept in Voyager 1. ( Source: NASA)
Gold Plated Audio Visual Disc kept in Voyager 1. ( Source: NASA)

There is a lot of information kept in the space probe so that if any intelligent species will approach it in future they can know about Human. All the information is written on Gold plated audio-visual disc which includes scientific techniques, spoken greeting from people, different sounds on Earth like the sound of the whale, baby crying, breaking of waves on shores and a collection of Earth Music.

There were 11 scientific instruments out of which only 5 are active today. Its signal took around 16 hours to reach Earth. It is power by three radioisotope thermoelectric generators ( RTG ) which gives it the power of 470 watts. They can power it up to 2025.

It was launched on September 5, 1977, to study the outer planet and interstellar space. It was observed in 1960 that all the four outer planets were aligning them so a space mission was planned to study using a new technique called gravity assist. Gravity assist is the technique of using gravitational attraction of different heavenly bodies to increase the speed of space probes so that less propulsion can give high speeds.

Voyager 1 used the gravity assist very well and reached the Jupiter on March 5, 1979, at the closest distance of 349,000 Km. It took lots of pictures of Jupiter and its rings, magnetic fields and moons. It also observed the radiation belt around Jupiter and volcanic activities on Io (moon) which was unseen before its approach.

Voyager 1 used the gravity assist of Jupiter and reached Saturn on November 12, 1980, at the closest distance of 124,000 Km. It detected the complex structures of Saturn’s Ring and its remote sensing instruments also detected the atmosphere of Saturn and its giant moon Titan. The gravity assist provided by Saturn’s mass was a very huge so that its trajectory tilted out of the plane of the ecliptic in which all planet moves. So now it can be directed towards the Pluto but scientist directed it toward more important and less risky titan and that resulted in the end of its primary mission of planetary study. After that, it moved away from the solar system.

On November 17, 1998, Voyager 1 had changed the history by crossing the Pioneer 10 and become the farthest probe of human history at the distance of 69.419 AU. It is moving at a tremendous speed of 17.26 Km/s. There is no mission in future or present that can cross Voyager 1 because New Horizons is moving at a very low speed of 15 km/s which will be further lowered to 13 Km/s when it will be at the present distance of voyager 1.

In 2003 it reaches the region of termination shock where the speed of solar wind decreases to subsonic speed. In 2005, the researchers found that it was in the region of heliosheath.In October 2012, it was in the heliopause where the speed of solar wind decreases to zero due to the pressure of interstellar waves. It is now detecting the cosmic radiations mostly and solar particles are very less indicating that it very near to the end of our solar system boundary. This was named “Magnetic Highway” by scientists.

Present Position of Voyager 1 spacecraft
Present Position of Voyager 1. (Source: NASA)

It is not moving towards any particular star but it will reach Gliese in 40,000 years at a distance of 1.6 light years. This star is moving toward our solar system at the speed of 119 Km/s.

It was predicted that Voyager 1 will enter the interstellar space in 2013-2015.

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