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Spacecraft Mission Pages
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Voyager I and II Flight Paths

Animated tour of the flight of the voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft

voyager spacecraftVoyagers Golden Record

Launched toward the end of the seventies, the voyager spacecraft visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and continued on to where they are now - leaving the domain called the solar system and heading into deep space.

The animation above plays from 1977 onwards, but if you want to watch it again - just rewind the time (using the top slider which has fine and coarse controls) back to 1977 when the voyagers were launched. By going forwards again you can watch the voyager spacecraft leave earth and visit the planets. The Voyagers were the first spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune and used a gravitational slingshot effect from Jupiter and Saturn to increase their speed. It was an amazingly clever piece of navigation.

The app has an automatic zoom feature to give a reasonable view of the spacecraft at all times, but you can zoom in and out using the zoom control. The data for the flight path was taken direct from NASA's JPL website.

If you let the animation run to present time, the spacecraft seem quite a way away. However, they are in fact further than they appear. This is because this simulation only shows a plan view but both spacecraft were sent out of the plane of the ecliptic in their final planetary encounters. This means Vogager 1 is some distance above the plane (e.g. closer to the viewer) and voyager 2 is some distance below the plane. You can see the start of these deviations in this video. If you let the animation run on then the positions shown are rough estimates using the last known velocity with no physics involved.

Each voyager carries a message from earth, a golden record which contains images and sounds as a means of saying hello to any extra-terrestrial lifeform that might find the probe in the future.

Voyager 2's journey through the Jupiter System can be seen in more detail in this youtube video.

A full explanation of the entire mission is crammed into this 15 minute video.

If you would like to read more about the Voyager missions, and what they discovered, the best starting point is probably these Voyager Spacecraft pages on wikipedia.