25 August 1981

NASA illustration of Voyager 2. (NASA)

25 August 1981: 4 years, 5 days after launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Saturn.

Upper atmosphere of Saturn, photographed by Voyager 2. (NASA)

The probe continued outward to Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, continuously transmitting images and data. In 1990, the space probe passed beyond the limits of the Solar System.

Voyager 2 is now in interstellar space. It crossed the heliopause, where “solar wind” is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas, 5 November 2018. It is still operating, 46 years after it was launched.

On 21 July 2023, an erroneous instruction caused Voyager 2 to turn its antenna away from Earth, but on 5 August 2023, contact was reestablished. A power reduction strategy is hoped to allow the space probe to continue operating until 2026.

As of today, (24 August 2023) Voyager 2 is 133.6 Astronomical Units from Earth (19,990,415,757 kilometers/12,421,468,742 statute miles/10,793,960,992 nautical miles). Radio signals, traveling at the Speed of Light, take more than 18.5 hours to cross that distance. It continues outbound at a rate of 3.3 AU/year.

© 2023, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 thoughts on “25 August 1981

    1. On 25 August 1981, I set a new land speed record of 98 mph on my brand new 1981 fire engine red Suzuki GS450E. I am sure Voyager 2 was traveling a bit faster than that!!

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