Voyaging into eternity – a triumph of engineering

Miraculously still in operation, Voyager 2 and its twin Voyager 1 are the only spacecraft ever to operate outside the heliosphere, the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields generated by the Sun. Voyager 2 flew by Neptune and Uranus, while Voyager 1 is now nearly 15 billion miles away from Earth, making it humanity’s most distant spacecraft.

  The two space probes are a marvel of 1970s science and engineering, launched when Jimmy Carter was president and Fleetwood Mac was chart topping. Both spacecraft will run out of power sometime after 2025, nearly half a century after they were launched.

  A mistaken command recently lost contact with Voyager 2 but an “interstellar shout”, a powerful command signal, got the probe to turn its antenna back towards Earth and reconnect.

 Voyager 2, 20 August 1977 2.29 pm Cape Canaveral, Florida launched first. Followed by Voyager 1 on 5 September 1977 at 12.56 pm, Cape Canaveral.

  Both charts have Pluto conjunct North Node on the Ascendant square the Cancer Midheaven; with Uranus trine MC and trine Jupiter – innovation rules and good luck.

  There is a prominent Saturn in wannabe-important Leo.

  I’m not sure I am any wiser as to why they have stayed successfully robust for so long.  But if 2025 or thereabouts is the cut off date that will be when tr Neptune is square the Jupiter – which can bring high hopes down to earth – though the probes will stay way out/up there cruising on into eternal darkness, having exhausted their radioisotope generators.

 Reassuring to know that something in the universe still works.

6 thoughts on “Voyaging into eternity – a triumph of engineering

  1. Love all the comments!

    I am always moved by the thought that these intrepid creations of human ingenuity and optimism are still going, where no one has gone before, to quote Star Trek. They represent and carry our greatest achievements and highest hopes.

    I can’t help but think of the Voyagers as being ‘alive’ – after all, the definition of ‘life’ is based on our own limited knowledge. Astrology makes no such distinction, so machines, as any other entity can be attributed horoscopes; it correlates aspects of human life and metaphysics to heavenly bodies scientifically considered ‘inert’.

    From a slightly different perspective, some believe that material creations contain the spirit of their creator.

  2. A similar “bad command” sent happened with Viking 1 in 1982. “The lander operated for 2,245 sols (about 2,306 Earth days or 6 years) until November 11, 1982 (sol 2600), when a faulty command sent by ground control resulted in loss of contact. The command was intended to uplink new battery charging software to improve the lander’s deteriorating battery capacity, but it inadvertently overwrote data used by the antenna pointing software. ” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_1]

  3. I’ve always found the Voyager probes an endearing piece of human ingenuity. Travelling through space to deliver our message.

    • The whole early space programme is amazing to me when you consider your mobile phone has way more processing power and memory than any of the early spacecraft. Think, back in 1994, when I watched a programme celebrating Apollo they made the comparison to your car’s computer being more powerful.

    • Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are probably among the greatest human achievements in my lifetime eclipsing the manned lunar landings. The Voyager 1 discovery of erupting volcanos on Jupiter’s moon Io in 1979 will always remain in my memory as one of the most mind blowing moments in the exploration of the solar system.

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