Tag Archives: Uranus

20 August 1977

Voyager 2/Titan IIIE-Centaur launch, LC-41, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 20 August 1977. (NASA)

20 August 1977: Voyager 2 was launched from Launch Complex 41 at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Titan IIIE-Centaur launch vehicle. It was placed on an orbital trajectory that would take it on a journey throughout the Solar System and beyond.

Nearly two years later, 9 July 1979, Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Jupiter, passing within 350,000 miles (570,000 kilometers) of the planet. Many dramatic images as well as scientific data were transmitted back to Earth.

Artist’s concept of Voyager. (NASA/JPL)

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.

Voyager 2 captured this image of the moon Io transiting Jupiter, 9 July 1979. (NASA)
Uranus, imaged by Voyager 2, 24 January 1986. (NASA/JPL–Caltech)
This image of Neptune was captured by Voyager 2 on 20 August 1989, 28 years ago. (NASA)

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, (19 August 2023) Voyager 2 is 133.5 Astronomical Units from Earth (19,977,744,317 kilometers/12,413,594,804 statute miles/10,787,118,961 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