by Jim Harrison
The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which launched on Sept. 5, 1977, is 11 billion miles from the sun. Voyager 2, which launched on Aug. 20, 1977, is “close” behind, at 9.3 billion miles from the sun. “Our two veteran Voyager spacecraft are hale and healthy as they near the 35th anniversary of their launch,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena. The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, which continues to operate both.
The prime mission science payload consisted of 10 instruments (11 investigations including radio science). Only five investigator teams are still supported, though data are collected for two additional instruments. With the exception of the Voyager 1 PLS instrument, all of the above are working well and are capable of continuing operations in the expected environment. The Plasma Science, Low-Energy Charged Particles, Cosmic Ray Sub-system, Magnetometer, and the Plasma Wave Subsystem experiments are all in operation.
Electrical power is supplied by three radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). The current power levels are about 315 watts for each spacecraft. The Flight Data Subsystem and a single 8-track digital tape recorder provide the data handling functions. Data are played back every six months.
For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:http://www.nasa.gov/voyager.