NASA has developed many space probes throughout its history, but there’s one name in particular that always comes up in conversation, and that’s Voyager 2. Many of us, even those who don’t read up on space-related news regularly, are familiar with Voyager 2, due to its extremely significant career since its initial launch. So, what exactly is Voyager 2 and what makes it such an important probe?
What is Voyager 2?
In 1977, it was determined that the planets in our Solar System would be aligned in such a way that would make it easier to explore them than ever before thanks to unique effects on gravity caused by their arrangement. These favorable circumstances occur only once every 175 years, and, needless to say, NASA wanted to take full advantage of this exciting situation. This is why they launched the Voyager Program that year. The Voyager Program involved the launch of two separate space probes: Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Both of these probes were launched in 1977 specifically to study the planets in detail that wasn’t possible ever before in history.
Voyager 2 was launched in August of 1977, and since then, it has been able to reach Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. As many of us know, both Neptune and Uranus are considered ice planets, and Voyager 2, to this day, is the only spacecraft that has ever actually visited them.
One thing that makes Voyager 2 so uniquely prominent is that it continues to be highly useful today. In fact, it is now capable of leaving our Solar System entirely thanks to the fact that it has achieved Solar escape velocity, which is a distinction that it shares with only four other spacecrafts. These days, Voyager 2 works directly with the NASA Deep Space Network.
Now, Voyager 2 has been in the news again, and for once, it hasn’t been for a good reason. As many of you know, Voyager 2 glitched during its mission, sending NASA into panic mode. However, specialists have been able to come up with a plan in order to fix it, meaning that it can fulfill its mission after all.
Why Voyager 2 is So Important to NASA
For 42 years, Voyager 2 has served as an extremely reliable spacecraft capable of fulfilling many of NASA’s missions. While many spacecrafts of its day have been rendered obsolete, Voyager 2 continues to dominate as space travel continues to evolve with many technological advancements on behalf of NASA’s gifted engineers. To have such a useful craft last for this long is pretty remarkable in and of itself, making it one of the most easily recognizable crafts to ever be launched into space.
But, Voyager 2 is special in more ways than one. Over the years, it has provided us with extensive data regarding our Solar System, and this information has given us greater insight into what surrounds our own planet. Among many accomplishments, Voyager 2 has given us data regarding volcanoes on Jupiter’s moons, the atmosphere on Saturn, the Uranian ring system and more. Now, it’s being utilized for interstellar space missions, and NASA has confirmed that it’s still fully capable of sending signals back to Earth as it goes about its missions to come.
A Stunning Innovation within NASA’s Remarkable History
Now, you can see why Voyager 2 is such a significant spacecraft in terms of NASA’s past as well as its present. And, the future looks bright for the probe as more missions are planned for years to come.