Sunday, February 6, 2011
This robotic space probe is still operating, it has been working since 1977. It's the most distant man made object in existence so far. It's main function was to study the solar systems two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as stopping by Uranus and Neptune. It captured the first close up images of the largest planets. It worked out perfectly when they decided to go ahead with this plan since the planets where going to be in alignment to make use of something that had never been attempted before on such a scale, the gravity boost.
Awesome concept, free velocity from the planets. It had 16 hydrazine thrusters and 8 back up thrusters. As well as a wide array of sophisticated (for the time) instruments. It can transmit data at a whopping 115 kilobytes per second, and has a massive internal tape memory of 65,000 kilobytes heh. Maybe not impressive today, but very much so on a spacecraft in the 70s.
Yup its radioactive, its powered by plutonium, which can make enough heat to produce 470 watts. This will allow voyager to continue to function until around 2025, as the plutonium oxide will slowly decay over time. As of Feb 6 2011, Voyager 1 was 116 Au (17 billion kms) from the sun. It is traveling at an unbelievable 17 Km/second.
This is the golden record attached to Voyager. I wont even try to go into detail about how much information or why it was recorded and written on this disk but its a lot. Here's just the "instructions".