NASA’s Voyager probes have been traveling in space for 45 years. Here are 18 groundbreaking photos from their incredible mission.

The thumb is a collage of four images taken by the Voyager probes featured in the piece.

This montage shows examples of the striking solar system imaging that Voyager 1 and 2 took on their missions.NASA/JPL/Insiders

Voyager spacecraft are pioneering science, going further into space than any other manufactured object.

NASA originally sent the twin probes on a four-year mission to Jupiter and Saturn in 1977; they exceeded all expectations and are still ongoing 45 years later, making it NASA’s longest-running mission.

Incredible photos of the solar system are among the results they broadcast before NASA shut down the cameras.

But now they face a terminal problem: their power is running out. NASA scientists are doing their best to find power for the latest scientific instruments operating on board.

NASA recently came up with a clever trick to extend Voyager 2’s life for another three years. He plans to do the same with Voyager 1 so both probes can keep sending crucial information from interstellar space for as long as possible.

But the probes are nearing the end of their scientific mission. Here are 18 images from Voyager that changed science:

Voyager probes were designed to visit Jupiter and Saturn.

A diagram shows the trajectories of the Voyager probes at the start of their mission.

The traveller’s probes zipped across the solar system taking unprecedented photos.NASA

The Voyager mission included two spacecraft — Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 — that NASA launched in 1977 within months of each other.

The launches capitalized on a rare alignment of planets that allowed them to supercharge their space travel.

NASA originally built the probes to last five years, but they’ve exceeded that lifespan many times over.

On September 9, 2022, the probes had been traveling for 45 years.

This is what Voyager 1 saw on its approach to Jupiter.

This time-lapse video records Voyager 1's approach to Jupiter over a period of more than 60 Jupiter days.

A time-lapse taken by Voyager 1 as it approached Jupiter in 1979.NASA/JPL

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 reached Jupiter in 1979. They took about 50,000 images of the planet in total, which far surpassed the quality of the images scientists have taken from Earth, according to NASA.

The images taught scientists important facts about the planet’s atmosphere, magnetic forces and geology that might otherwise have been difficult to decipher.

Probes have discovered two new moons orbiting Jupiter: Thebe and Metis….

Jupiter and two of its moons are shown in a photo taken by Voyager.

Jupiter and two of its moons, as seen by Voyager spacecraft.NASA/JPL

…as well as a thin ring around Jupiter.

Jupiter's ring, imaged by Voyager, is shown.

A false-color image of Jupiter’s ring, discovered by the Voyager spacecraft.NASA/JPL

The spacecraft captured this image while looking at the planet backlit by the sun.

Voyager 1’s biggest discovery was volcanic activity on the surface of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons.

Volcanic activity captured on the surface of Io, Jupiter's moon, by Voyager spacecraft.

A photo taken by Voyager probes has discovered volcanoes on the surface of Io.NASA/JPL

Next stop: Saturn

A false-color image of Saturn taken by Voyager 2 shows features of the planet's atmosphere.

NASA used three images of Voyager 2, taken through ultraviolet, violet and green filters, to make this photograph.NASA/JPL

In 1980 and 1981, the probes reached Saturn. The flyby gave scientists an unprecedented view of the planet’s ring structure, atmosphere and moons.

Voyager taught scientists the details of Saturn’s rings.

Saturn's rings are shown in false color in a photo taken by a Voyager spacecraft in 1981.

A Voyager spacecraft took this false-color image of Saturn’s rings on August 23, 1981.NASA

Voyager captured Saturn’s moon Enceladus in unprecedented detail.

Encheladus, Saturn's moon, seen in unprecedented detail by Voyager.

Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, as seen by Voyager.NASA/JPL

This image, taken as the spacecraft flew by, provided a unique view of the planet.

Saturn as seen by Voyager 1 as it looked back on November 16, 1980, four days after the spacecraft flew past the planet.

Voyager 1 looked back at Saturn on Nov. 16, 1980, to give this unique perspective on its rings, partially covered in shadow.NASA/JPL

In 1986, Voyager 2 had arrived at Uranus

Neptune, seen in true and false color by Voyager.

Voyager 2 captured these images, in true color (left) and false color (right) of Neptune in 1986.NASA/JPL

Voyager 1 went straight ahead and would not have encountered another planet on its journey out of the solar system.

But Voyager 2 continued its exploration of our closest planets, passing within 50,600 miles of Uranus in January 1986.

He discovered two more rings around Uranus, revealing that the planet had at least 11, not 9.

His images of Uranus’ largest moons also uncovered 11 never-before-seen moons.

Miranda, the moon of Uranus, as seen by Voyager.

Voyager images of Uranus’ moon Miranda have revealed its complicated geological past.NASA/JPL

Here is an image of Miranda, the sixth largest moon of Uranus.

Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to observe Neptune from a close distance.

Neptune seen in false color by Voyager

Neptune, seen in false color by Voyager 2 in 1989. Here, red or white coloring indicates that sunlight is passing through a methane-rich atmosphere.NASA/JPL

In 1989, 12 years after its launch, Voyager 2 passed within 3,000 miles of Neptune.

An image shows the full blue Neptune.

An image shows the full blue Neptune.

Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

An image shows the rough surface of Triton.

An image shows the rough surface of Triton.

Triton, seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

He captured Neptune’s moon Triton in unprecedented detail.

Another shows Triton’s southern hemisphere.

One image shows Triton's southern hemisphere, which looks bumpy.

Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

He captured the rings of Neptune.

Neptune's rings, as seen by Voyager

The rings of Neptune.NASA/JPL

Here, Voyager saw the crescent shape of Neptune’s south pole as it moved away.

the crescent shape of Neptune's south pole is seen by the traveler as he departs.

Neptune, as seen by Voyager 2 in 1989.NASA/JPL

Voyager 2 will never take photos again. Since it wouldn’t encounter another planet on its current journey, NASA turned off its cameras after the Neptune flyby to save power for other instruments.

Voyager took 60 images of the solar system from about 4 billion miles away.

Voyager 1's portrait of the solar system, composed of 60 images taken from 4 billion miles away.

Voyager 1 provided a portrait of the solar system in 1990.NASA/JPL

As a last photographic hurrah, Voyager 1 snapped 60 images of the solar system from 4 billion miles away in 1990.

He gave us the farthest self-portrait on Earth, dubbed the “pale blue dot.”

traveler blue dot

This is Earth, seen from 4 billion miles away.NASA

This is likely to remain the longest-range selfie in human history for some time: a portrait of Earth from 4 billion miles away.

After this image, NASA turned off Voyager 1’s cameras to conserve energy. NASA could turn the probes’ cameras back on, but it’s not a priority for the mission.

Beyond the solar system

voyager 1 nasa in the heliopause

This artist’s concept shows the general locations of NASA’s two Voyager spacecraft. Voyager 1 (top) sailed past our solar bubble into interstellar space, the space between the stars.NASA/JPL-Caltech

While the probes are no longer sending images, they haven’t stopped sending back crucial information about space.

In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first man-made instrument to traverse interstellar space past the heliopause, the boundary between our solar system and the rest of the universe.

Voyager 2 was the second, to have crossed the border in 2018. It later revealed that there was an extra border surrounding our solar bubble.

The probes continue to send measurements from interstellar space, as strange buzzing sounds probably coming from the vibrations produced by nearby stars.

Even after their instruments are shut down, the probes’ mission continues.

Shown here are the two sides of the NASA gold disc aboard the Voyager spacecraft.

A collage shows the two sides of NASA’s gold disk, which is on board the Voyager spacecraft.NASA/Insiders

Now NASA is planning to shut down the probes’ instruments more with the hope of extending their life until 2030.

But even after all instruments go silent, the probes will still drift away carrying the gold disc, which could provide crucial information about humanity if intelligent extraterrestrial life existed and it stumbled upon the probes.

This article was originally published on June 6, 2022.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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