On August 20, 1977, Voyager 2 launched into space and sixteen days later, Voyager 1 followed its twin into the cosmos. Over the past 45 years, the Voyager spacecrafts have gone above and beyond their initial missions to explore the gas giants; returning more than 33,000 photos, astonishing data, and now exploring how space changes beyond the sun’s influence.
Solar power doesn’t work 11 billion miles from the sun, so the probes have to rely on their power source, plutonium-238. As expected, their power levels have diminished to very low levels, 200 watts of power are needed to transmit data back to Earth and there is power margin of about 5 or 6 watts on each spacecraft. Engineers have been powering off certain subsystems to conserve power and their attempts are working! If all goes well, the Voyager probes will continue sending back data into the 2030s!
Check out the links below to learn more about the incredible missions!
NASA’s twin Voyager probes are nearly 45 — and facing some hard decisions
The Voyager probes are not fully powering down … yet
Voyager – 45 Years in Space (YouTube links)
Record-Breaking Voyager Spacecraft Begin to Power Down