Voyager, 11 Billion Miles Later: Photos from the Depths of Our Solar System

For 33 years, America's Voyager spacecraft have been flying toward the edges of our solar system. TIME surveys the most notable interstellar scenes captured by the Voyager's cameras along the way.

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For 33 years, America’s Voyager spacecraft have been flying toward the edges of our solar system. TIME surveys the most notable interstellar scenes captured by the Voyager’s cameras along the way.

PHOTOS: Window on Infinity: Pictures from Space

MORE: Voyager 1 at the Threshold of Forever

More Photography from Time

22 comments
gsiboy69
gsiboy69

11 Billion miles is nothing, not even 1 light year!

cttimpe
cttimpe

Ed Stone and his science buddies have acquired and shared many photos and much scientific data from Voyagers 1 and 2.There is an outstanding amount of this data.However, I presume that even Ed Stone has forgotten a very important and nearly devastating time in the life of Voyager 2.

A few days (not sure exactly how many) after launch, Voyager 2 was “lost in space”.The Deep Space Network (DSN) was unable to acquire the spacecraft.JPL engineers and data analysts got busy to find it.With vigilant tracking acquisition procedures and alert data processing and analysis, the spacecraft was found.The observed tracking data malfunctions were duplicated on the ground-based mockup of Voyager.The failure mode was determined and new DSN tracking procedures were developed to acquire, track and process the data from the impaired Voyager 2.As a result of the successful JPL engineering effort, scientists have been able to acquire and process 35 years (and counting) of data from voyager 2.

Those of us who worked on the rescue would appreciate seeing the debacle mentioned somewhere in the Voyager history.I, personally have explored the Voyager program websites of JPL and NASA and have not found even a hint that there was ever as much as a “glitch” in the flight history.

adebimpe.akintade
adebimpe.akintade

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JimPurrington
JimPurrington

Did you know that Voyager is no furthur in space than it was here on earth....

 There is no measur in space, only distances from other planets... there is no begining and no end to space.

therefore you cannot measure distance..............

ashterix21
ashterix21

I dont know if anyone else feels it too, but I would have liked a less "touched up" photo of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter ... I know most astronomical photos (incl from Hubble) have the actual visible wavelengths changed to emphasize the detail of the astronomical object and its beauty .. But many times I yearn to see things closer to as they are even if they cannot be exactly like the original and have to be altered somewhat to bring out the detail ... I would take a less colourful and distinctive photo any day than one that has been altered significantly to ,apparently, cater to public tastes .. . to me , that makes "pale blue dot" pic (referred by someone else) a lot more impressive and exciting ..

vinstrat64
vinstrat64

Well it's only "Time" (pun intended), but you would think an article on science could at least report that it's been 35 years since 1977 and not 33. 

PhilSmith
PhilSmith

How many miles before it has an oil change and tuneup?

onyemaechi
onyemaechi

‘Anything Japanese can do, Nigerians can do better’…says 20-old student who designed amateur solid rocket propellant From ALOYSIUS ATTAH, Onitsha Areyou one of those worried that our universities do not produceresearchers and innovators anymore? Maybe you have lost hope thatnothing good will ever come out of our ivory towers again, and becauseof that, are making plans to send your children abroad for highereducation. There is hope. The indomitable spirit and ingenuityof Nigerians that were on display during Nigerian Civil War whenBiafrans produced “shore batteries” rockets, “ogbunigwe” (the dread masskiller) and other war arsenals are still present with us. This was inevidence, recently, during projects defense organized by the Departmentof Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. A 20-year-oldof the department called Idoko Modestus Chijioke stunned the panel ofassessors when he presented an amateur solid rocket propellant as hisown project. His lecturers not only marveled at his ingenuity, hissupervisor, Dr. J. A. Alhassan, was so proud of him that he called onthe federal government to assist the young genius to achieve the best soas to conquer his world.    The amateur rocket has PVC-pipe asthe motor casing, aluminum as the nose cone, ½-inch pvc-cover, aluminumand a ½-inch diameter pipe as the nozzle. The propellant is made up of325 grams of potassium nitrate (oxidizer) and 175 grams of sorbitol(sugar), making a total of 500 grams. The PVC-pipe is of ¾-inchdiameter, and 65cm in length. The rocket motor igniter is a mixture ofpotassium nitrate and charcoal at 80/20 ratio, to form it into a blackpowder (gun powder). Amateur rocketry is also known asexperimental rocketry. The project design objective according toChijioke and to test the workability of a potassium nitrate (oxidizer)and sorbitol (fuel) blended into a KN-SB propellant for the amateurrocket made with local materials. The rocket which was launchedsuccessfully on one of the hill-tops behind the university attained anestimated height of 35m in flight. In a chance encounter with this reporter, Chijioke shed more light on how he came up with the idea for the project. “Icame up with this project because of a childhood dream of being arocket scientist,” he said, “and this particularly led me into theDepartment of Physics and Astronomy, of UNN, to get a good grasp of thephysics/science of rockets and an understanding of astronomy for whichrocket is basically built”. Asked what challenges he encounteredin the course of carrying out the project, the soft spoken young mansaid he cannot point to any because according to him, “life is all aboutchallenges but with focus and determination, success will surely come”.“Some people around me thought this was not possible,” headded. “But this only made me determined to prove them wrong. The otherchallenges were normal in amateur rocketry as several trials were madeand several failures recorded. But at last the design objective wasobtained. I have dreams and tall ambitions. One of them is to be inspace one day. I only pray that my dreams will get support both fromgovernment and well meaning individuals so that they will beactualized”. In a chat with Education Review, Alhassan, hisproject supervisor, said that, through his project, young Chijioke hasdemystified science. “The solid rocket propellant constructed byIdoko Chijioke, though an adaptation of an amateur astronomerexperiments, is original. He fabricated the rocket from locallyavailable materials from our environment. Whenever we hear of rockets,our minds by reflex action go to the technologically advanced world.Chijoke has demystified science by his effort. If he is properlymotivated and equipped, he can break the ice in scientific world. Thereis hope for \Nigeria’s national transformation if we can support andfund scientific innovations like my student has done” he said.       Culled from the Daily Sun (CAMPUS SQUARE), Tuesday, October 16, 2012, pages 31 and 32

he really needs to be encouraged.

http://www.unn.edu.ng/news/unn-student-develops-amateur-rocket-propellant

ajay0209
ajay0209

33 years later, and they are still working!! Hats off to NASA, and to American ingenuity...

dentate
dentate

"TIME surveys the most notable interstellar scenes captured by the Voyager’s cameras along the way."  That must be a very small survey.  Voyager has not yet reached interstellar space.

dj436582
dj436582

11 billion miles and not ETs... hmmm.

TheReckster
TheReckster

If you have not watched it recently or ever seen the first Star Trek movie, where the Enterprise encounters Viger. It is worth a view. Just to gain some perspective on how totally cool this is.

enlightenu
enlightenu

@JimPurrington Of course you are wrong.  Earth is a planet, and there is a certain, constantly increasing distance from Earth to Voyager.  There is a relative distance from Voyager to every galaxy, star, planet, asteroid, everything, in the universe.  

atepper001
atepper001

@ashterix21 i was thinking the same thing... i am so curious to know what these objects, gases, etc look like with the naked eye. so much  more interesting that way.

Greekgeek
Greekgeek

@dentate I saw this headline and thought maybe Voyager had taken a "goodbye solar system" photo in the past year or so — not in interstellar space, but just from very very far out.

But no. These are great photos, but they are old photos from our planetary tour.

Fool me with fake headline why don't you, TIME?!

djmeyer85
djmeyer85

@dj436582 In the cosmic realm, 11 billion miles is nothing. Compare to it a farmer that has his plot of land in a remote area, that plot of land is Earth. Where Voyager is is the equivalent to probably going out only a hundred yards from his front door