Carrying on it the symbols and messages of Earth and humanity, Voyager 1 probe is the first probe to exit solar system and enter interstellar space. It is also the fastest and farthest man-made object ever. The magnificent journey of Voyager has helped the entire human race to grow its intellects and look beyond what can be seen in the night sky. Here we are to explore the wonderful story of this masterpiece of humanity.
The Voyager 1 was launched by NASA from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 5 September 1977, just 16 days after its twin, Voyager 2. It was constructed by The Jet Propulsion laboratory and was powered by 16 hydrazine thrusters, and also was equipped with three-axial stabilization gyroscopes. Following instruments were fitted on it:
- Image Science System
- Radio Science System
- Ultraviolet and infrared spectrometer
- Low energy charged particle instrument
- Cosmic Ray system
- Planetary Radio Astronomy Investigation
- Plasma wave subsystem
The probe is powered by 3 radio isotopic thermoelectric generators. And one of the most important things that it contains is the “GOLDEN RECORD “. This golden disc contains sounds, music and images from Earth for any advanced alien species or future human who might collect it. It contains message in 50 different languages and also music of different artists.
ENCOUNTER WITH JUPITER
The Voyager 1 flyby Jupiter in 1979. It began photographing Jupiter in January 1979 and was closest to the planet on March 5, 1979. Many important observations were made about Jupiter and its moon. The most important discoveries were the volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon LO and the photograph of GREAT RED SPOT. This was the first time; volcanic activity was seen outside Earth. Many never seen before planetary rings, radiation belts and natural satellites were made.
ENCOUNTER WITH SATURN
After Jupiter, the Voyager 1 did head towards Saturn. It approached the Saturn system in November 1980 and was closest to the planet on November 12 ,1980. The space probe’s cameras detected complex structures in the rings of Saturn, and its remote sensing instruments studied the atmospheres of Saturn and its giant moon Titan. One of the most amazing discoveries was perhaps the determination of helium-hydrogen ration on Saturn. Voyager 1 found that about seven percent of the volume of Saturn‘s upper atmosphere is helium (compared with 11 percent of Jupiter’s atmosphere). This made Saturn the only planet less dense than water .Many amazing and aesthetic images were also sent back to earth of Saturn and its moon.
THE LEGACY OF VOYAGER 1
After the flyby of Jupiter and Saturn, the primary mission of Voyager 1 was successfully completed. But it continued it journey out of the solar system . On Valentine’s day 1990, the probe turned its camera towards Earth for the last time and took first “family portrait “of solar system. This included the image of Earth known as “PALE BLUE DOT “. In this image Earth is seen as a pale blue speck suspended in interstellar space. The famous astronomer Carl Sagan was so inspired by this photo that he wrote a whole book on it. One part of his book is:
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The voyager continued to cross Termination shock and then Heliosheath on August 2012 and finally entered the interstellar space, becoming the first man made object to exit Solar system. Due to diminishing power of its generators, the probe will be shut down by 2025 but will continue to travel into deeper space containing the message, symbols and legacy of Human race on its Golden Record. . It may not be something compared to the vastness of space, but for our species, it is a symbol of intellectual maturity.